Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Everything can be taken from a man but the last of the human freedoms -
to choose one's attitude
in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.
~ Victor Frankl, holocost surviver, author of "Man’s Search for Meaning"

My beloved eldest sister has Parkinson’s Disease. I serve her as well as I can long distance. One day on the phone she was telling me about her mounting insecurities. She said, “I don’t know how to tell whether I’m not going out and driving because I’m afraid, or because I’m being sensible.” It's an important question, one worthy of reflection.

During any major life transition, the way we act and live is often similar to the way we have always lived , only more so. The stakes are higher, but so is the potential cost of acting without reflection.

By contrast, let’s say my life happens to be going along uneventfully. I’m in a “life as usual” phase, that moderate standard against which I measure my ups and downs. Many decisions can easily be made in an ordinary day...
...without questioning the place in me from which I make them.
Do I think, act, and live from fear? from commitment? or (as my life partner does) from gratitude and awe? When a crisis surfaces in my field of awareness, I see what I hadn’t before. My eyes have been opened by these new circumstances. For many of us, when crises hit, the wind picks up, and the way we steer our little boat of life becomes critical.

Are you driven by a need to feel competent or useful? Or by the need to be recognized? Are there saner criteria for prioritizing, more creative ways to accomplish practicalities that leave you spare cycles for tending to your heart and relationships? Maslow tells us, “When all we have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”. What might be possible if we all stopped trying to nail down life? What if we embraced change to see “crises” as full of possibility?

My sister was contemplating fear vs. practicality. What if the options were fear vs. possibility? How do we know, when we say No to life, if we’re unnecessarily limiting ourselves and others? How often are daily decisions merely fear masquerading as common sense? Who would we be if we lived first out of possibility, then tempered it with discernment?
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