Owning Your Choices

Several weeks ago I was hiking with my son in a canyon in southern Utah. Having descended a well maintained trail near a great stone bridge we hiked up the canyon floor on an “unmaintained trail” leading after several miles to another natural bridge and another well maintained trail leading back out of the canyon. We had chosen to do this hike in the evening. It was a wonderful scramble along mostly dry stream bed.
The canyon snaked back and forth, and was joined by far more side canyons than seemed to be on the map. While the hiking was easy and fun, with a bull frog chorus as the sun got lower, the sun was getting lower, and we needed to find the exit before the deep desert darkness set in.
In the end we found our way out, under a spectacularly back-lit stone bridge as the sun set and dusk came upon us. While we were never in real danger, the uncertainty and approaching darkness made them noticeably harder to make.
Last week I saw a movie called Angel-A about a young man living his life in constant haste, spurred by fear, and making choices that bring him to a literal dead end. An angel enters and forces him to slow down so he can notice his choices, to realize when he is making them and what they really are. At first he resists the idea that he actually has choices; he’s just doing what is necessary, even if half of Paris is out to kill him.
Our life unfolds based on the choices we make, but living in fear, or haste, we may not realize we are making them. When we choose not to choose that is also a choice and slowing in freeze mode is at the other end of the same spectrum. Some choices are hard to even notice. It is said that our lives are formed by the things we don’t see, or choose not to look at.
Like the young man we may believe we “don’t have a choice”. This stance robs us of our power. Even when we choose things that we don’t like or really want, we are choosing (perhaps the best choice at the time) but if we don’t own that choice as a choice how can we ever get to a place where we can choose differently? If you own your choices, even the unwilling ones, as choices, you begin to empower your ability to choose. Empowering choice in your life, you will discover better options. The young man in his power finds totally new choices which transform his life.
Most of our hike the rock walls told us where to go. Occasionally there were branches and possible alternate routes. If we had been too fearful, or hurried, we might have wound up in a side channel along way from a real exit. Slowing and trusting, we found the proper route and were led up and out, to a level with the choices of safety and warmth we sought.
You don’t have to like all your choices, but owning them as your’s, no matter how much they look like some form of external necessity, you claim your power to choose. You stop being a victim and wake up to a different world with power and choice and begin to co-create a life that works for you.

for my son, who is better at trusting than I am

(© 6/2011)

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