Friday, September 10, 2010

Choice

Growing up, Poppy talked to us a lot about choice. A deeply spiritual man, he told us often that what separated us from animals was the unique combination of opposable thumbs, big toes and free will. We are similar to many other animals... to pigs in our inner anatomy, and to apes in our physiology, but no other animal but the human one has all three things... and the greatest of the three may be the ability to make a choice.

We read the Bible cover to cover at least twice during the space of our childhood and teen years, chapter by chapter, for fifteen years at least. Every week we looked at those chapters not just for the spiritual content, but for the overall story of man. The Bible is really nothing more than the history of man's choices... God's laws certainly, and His rules. But ultimately the story is about whether mankind chooses to follow, rationalize, ignore or dismiss those rules. We have the choice, the ability, to follow those laws or not. And there are always consequences. We studied the choice Eve made in the Garden of Eden to choose knowledge and understanding, we talked about the consequences of her decision. We talked about how it was difficult, and there were repercussions she still made a valid choice... Poppy always said she was the first scientist, the first to ask questions, the first to choose...

When I was younger, before I really understood the gift I have to see people's life stories, to see the consequences of the choices they will make before they do, I would get really frustrated and dismissive with those who made illogical choices. Poppy taught us to really think about the choices we made, and to stick with those choices, to choose a path and stick with it, or to choose an idea and make a stand. To make a stand for right, for light...

"I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live..." Poppy quoted often the passage in Deuteronomy 30/19, and it is a passage that stuck with me all my life, mostly because the chapter that precedes it clearly states the results of each choice. And bore a very scary similarity to the story of Africans and Europeans.

I would wonder about the choices people made... and then I went through a long period where I rationalized a whole bunch of my own choices. I learned to operate in the big grey area... the area where you don't really have to make any choices. I got really good at it, too. And then I had my Sun and realized in a deeper way than I ever had before, how my choices affected other people. Specifically, this new life who depended on me. I realized then, that while it can be awfully convenient to slip and slide in the grey, and while you may think you're getting away with shit, what you do or don't do affects your kid. For life. That is a HUGE responsibility... and one I took seriously.

And so slowly I came back to the realizations of my youth, to make a stand for truth and the light, but time had taught me something important... that the course you choose to stand for is your OWN course... and it's not for you to judge the course that others may take provided they are consistent and "own" the course they take. But one thing I can't ever get over are the ones who choose to slip and slide in the grey. It makes them dangerous, because you never know where there going to fall on a particular subject. They cop-out at the most inopportune times. But by the same token, once I know that about a person I can choose to leave them alone. But it sucks when you think you can depend on someone, and then realize halfway in they only have their own self interest at heart. And no, most people DON'T operate like that... just the grey ones.

Somewhere in my 20's or 30's I had a dream that I was leading a bunch of people out of hell. There were demons on a huge, fiery stage having some kind of a rally or concert, and in the flicker of flames I could see many people dancing and writhing and having a good time. Hell really looked like a lot of fun, but at the same time I was terrified of being discovered, and terrified of leaving someone behind. We huddled behind a bush, watching the party, and I tried to comfort someone... and then I woke up.

I don't fancy that I am some great Harriet Tubman type, but coupled with that thing I have I realized that sometimes I am placed in the path of someone who has a choice to make. I have the ability to clearly (and sometimes scarily) see what their choices are... and I am compelled to persuade them to choose light. Sometimes they don't. Sometimes the grey is too comfortable. Sometimes the darkness is... and it hurts when I have to leave them behind. But I have to, because I can't carry their darkness with me. That ability I don't have.

The thing that sucks though, is that while I can see other people's paths, I muddle through my own. And until recently there weren't a whole lot of people I trusted to accurately see mine... without trying to color my paths with their own assumptions or desires. Cuz the toughest trick for me, was learning how NOT to let my own quest for light color someone else's. You can lead a horse to water, my mother always said, but you can't make them drink. And so I lead... but it was hard for me to be led.

So I live my life to the best of my ability... make choices I can live by. And the greatest choice I ever made was to be accessible to my kid. To be a fulltime, stay-at-home mom without a working husband, full time partner. It's cost me a lot, but I've gained a lot from it. But there are consequences, and one of them reared it's ugly head the other day in the form of a three-day notice from my landlord. I am very very very behind in the rent, and they want me to pay.

And I can't. And so I have to make the choice to ignore the notice, and let this thing go to court in the hope that I can get some grants to help, that will give me a stay of execution until things pick up.

It sucks. I am dizzy with stress. I fully expect to wake up one morning and have my hair be completely white.

But I made the choice... I made the choice to ferry my kid back and forth to school, to violin, to Peru, to eat dinner at home with him every night and put him to bed. I made the choice to fight his father because I knew I had to guard my Sun's light--it was my duty. I made the choice to give my kid as close to the childhood as I had. I made that choice even when I worked full time, which wasn't always the choice my employers wanted me to make. It made me expendable. But I can't blame anyone for my plight... and I can't even say I have regrets.

I am sure that there are other choices in there that I didn't choose wisely. I am not perfect, and I am not self-righteous. I doubt myself. I'm sure that those who know what I'm dealing with have their opinions on the things I could have done... and I'm sure that some of them are right. I can't always "see" my own path... but I don't regret the time I gave my kid.

But now I have to deal with the consequences... I have other, more stressful choices to make.

And I hope that I'm doing the right thing... I have to have faith that I haven't done wrong by my kid...