On a daily basis, are you able to make a quick choice and not look back? Yes I will pack my brown boots! Today I will eat pizza! No time for yoga class! No I don’t feel like calling my brother! Of course we all make decisions daily of varying degrees of importance and I would like to say I do this with ease —no misgivings, guilt or remorse, but lately it has not been so. After a decision is made it seems to be followed by “Are my brown boots really the right choice? What if I need black boots or rain boots? Or tennis shoes for cryin’ out loud? Should I even be going on this trip?!” The fact is that every decision we make has an outcome, or consequence. Not necessarily a negative one, but there will be a result every time and I seem to have trouble digesting this.
I can’t quite figure it out yet (although I truly hope to over the course of this blog). In my life, now more than ever, I realize that there are no wrong answers. Literally. Every and any mindful answer we choose is the correct one for that moment—leading us on down the path to the next decision. And if you do manage to make the “wrong” choice, the universe will simply keep presenting you with the option again and again until eventually you learn the lesson, etc.
Therefore as long as you have not caused harm to yourself or others, you’ve done no wrong. What a relief, right? If we can truly start to live like this, then it should be! So who are we afraid or hurting or letting down or getting judged by that makes us (me) so indecisive? And who’s judgement really matters anyway?
I can think of why I am in this boat, if you will, and I’m sure you can relate to some of these.
As an only child, I had a fantastic childhood where I loved being alone and I loved playing with my parents and relatives and friends and pets. I didn’t long for siblings or feel lonely. I was happy and only anxious when it came to going to school. I don’t think I slept well a single night before the first day of school for all 12 years. I used to beg to be home schooled. (cringe). But once I was there I always enjoyed myself and even excelled. I was scared but I didn’t quite know why. At that age I have to assume that I simply had some anxious tendencies. My mother and Grandmother always quoted from the Bible:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:25-34
And I tried. Sometimes I succeed. Perhaps I inherited my Grandmother’s nervous stomach.
Then as I got older in Jr. High and High School I started to become more self conscience (like all teenagers). It’s so crazy and kind of sad to think how, at that age, when we “become conscience” of ourselves, we immediately judge and reconstruct instead of just observing. Once we realize who we are compared to everyone else, it is no longer acceptable and must be realigned to go with the status quo. When I went into sixth grade, I joined sixth graders from all the three of the other elementary schools for the first time. This year was the first time I became aware and then ashamed of the clothes I was wearing that were from Wal-Mart or Sears or hand made by my mom. I had never heard of The Limited store, but I soon learned that I must have clothes from there if I was going to fit in and have any hope of being popular. I spent the next several years attempting to fit in and be unique at the same time.
Another pivotal time was the summer I spent at Ithaca College at a program for students entering into their senior year of high school. Although almost all people I come into contact with love a southern gal like myself, it only takes a few instances of being cited for incorrect pronunciation before I became ashamed of accent and roots. Also, I wanted to be a serious actress and unfortunately our accents are usually associated with bad grammar and therefore make us seem ignorant. In music theater class there I painstakingly learned the difference between the words, pitcher and picture. I called my best friend to inform him and we both considered it a revelation.
I remember church camps in other states and singing competitions abroad where other kids actually asked me if I regularly wore shoes or if I had chickens in my house. All these experiences shape me into being more professional and educated and less ignorant southern girl who walks barefoot in the garden. In college I was told things like, “You’ll be laughed out of NYC if you don’t pronounce ‘succinct’ correctly,” so I started purposefully shaping my every word and move. But give me a break, who are these people who are going to shun me from the NY theater scene? If they’re out there, then they sure aren’t a part of my world. And what I see mostly as my greatest tool for work is socializing. People want to know that they and everyone else involved in the project are going to have a good time with you…not really that your articulation is flawless and you know everything there is to know about theater history.
This ponderings are so interesting to me and making me think of whole other blog topics, like am I making an argument for less eduaction? (yikes) or why does there always have to be “good, better, best? Why must we always swoop in and try to change cultures in the name progress and betterment? Although I have always been an advocate for education and progress, I am beginning to have my doubts of the overall importance. I can now reason that becoming “mindful” “conscience” “awake” or whatever you would like to call it is of the utmost importance, more so than a college degree. However, once you have awakened, all things will begin to fall into place and it will be easier for you to find your life’s path and goal etc. I do not believe in “progress for the sake of progress” and I am humble and smart enough to realize that my way life is not necessarily better than anyone else’s, especially not because I wear modern clothes and they were a loin cloth or don’t have iphones, or live off the land, etc.
Something I am seeing as I write is the amount of shame I seem to be feeling. Why all the shame? Stop self judging and be kind to yourself! I believe Eckert Tolle says that guilt and shame are man made emotions and I agree. Have you ever seen a guilty frog? A flamingo that is dying of shame? Shame and guilt are not in our nature and I am taking a step forward today to say that I am going to cleanse them from my life! Are you with me? Growing up we are all taught the difference between right and wrong and choices and punishments, it needs to stop there and not move into guilt and shame. There is no point. I have spent years trying to separate myself from all the guilt and shame most religious organization want us to feel. I don’t buy it. God put me on this earth to be happy, to live a fulfilled life, to love and be a good steward of his earth and it’s inhabitants. I am not perfect but not one little bit of me think God wants me to sit around and cry about it and wallow in guilt and beg his forgiveness. Besides, according to Christianity, once we ask for forgiveness, we are absolved. Meaning MOVE ON.
Lots of tangents today, but I am feeling better. I cannot see the big picture so I must make the best choices for myself as they are presented to me and move on. There are no wrong answers. I hope that brings you a sigh of relief.
Holland LeDelia Taylor is an actress, Pilates and Yoga Instructor, and self proclaimed tree-hugger. She currently splits her time between her hometown in Arkansas and New York City as well as traveling all over for performances and other endeavors. She is loving life, living in the moment, and writing this blog in an attempt to share her passions, inspire and encourage others, enjoy figuring out life, and generally change the world…for the better, of course.