Disclaimer: The original concept of this post was to detail the life events that led to JB and I living in the Caribbean…. but then I started writing and it became so much more… or much less…depending on your opinion.
Indecision. A quality that the more determined of our society may find unnecessarily time-consuming, bothersome, and the product of a weak-willed individual. I plead the opposite. Indecision has multiple forms; personally, it has evolved throughout my short 25 years to be a product of freedom instead of a product of fear.
What movie to Netflix? What to make for dinner? How to organize this blog post? Quickly consider how many decisions you make the first 30 minutes of your day; many of us (unless you’re a monk in a cave) suffer from decision overload (part of the reason I practice Ashtanga Yoga, but that’s another story). This decision deluge asks the mind to relentlessly engage in a cost-benefit analysis of feelings, finances, loved ones, desires… Rarely are the decisions either-or. This day in age with limitless options; decisions take on the form of either – or – or – or – or…. And if you are type A (I wish I weren’t, but I am #self-acceptance), then you’ll need time, patience, and proficiency in Excel to map out the pros and cons of what to eat for breakfast. This gets old, and quickly overwhelming (imagine Rori Gilmore without the wit, charm, and porcelain skin seemingly never affected by the stress of being perfect).
For all of us, on some level, making decisions is a form of control. Inherent in a decision is the power to choose what comes next (although, now I recognize this power to be an illusion of the ego, we are all at the will of god/life/God). However, most of us make choices that we hope will lead to success. I am not defining success here, as each of us have a different meaning for the term. For me it used to be a 4.0 GPA and to hold a minute long handstand. Now, the term is more evasive to me, but I have landed on the cliche of being happy – with one caveat – happy NO MATTER WHAT, no matter the outcome. So success is really just enjoying what is: the happiness, the pain, the loss, the failures, the achievements. I digress.
I became so attached to achieving societal successes with my decisions that I could hardly make any at all (societal successes being the implied “shoulds” you are bombarded with due to cultural norms, religious beliefs, media portrayal…). I was overwhelmed by the idea that my choice could cause me to succeed or fail, so I better choose right. I better get a good job so I should study hard, I better be skinny so I should go to the gym, I better get into heaven so I should attend church, I better be noticed by boys so I should wear make up and straighten my hair, I better have lots of friends so I should go out drinking (and end up making a fool of myself…). I was so afraid of not achieving these “shoulds.” Even more, I was afraid that I single handedly made the choices that led to failure, so much so, that it became easier not to choose at all: to actively allow life to pass me by. By relinquishing the power to choose I gave myself permission to believe I was not responsible for the outcome, failure was not my fault. I wasn’t living life, life was just happening, and I was watching it comfortably from bed.
It was in this state that I “chose” to attend The University of Florida, to join a sorority, to major in Chemical Engineering, to date the guys that gave me an inkling of attention, to accept my internship with BP. Obviously decisions were made, but really, if you were there, you would have the sense that all these decisions were already made for me and I didn’t question their outcome, I just accepted it. Like a pebble swept away by the river, at the will of the current. I took on a victim mindset, that if I didn’t “succeed” then it wasn’t really my fault, and I wasn’t to blame since I didn’t consciously partake in the decision making process; I was a casualty of life.
After my first internship with BP, I had an option to return to Houston for another summer (unemployment > Houston) or take a stab at requesting Anchorage, Alaska. Maybe it was the thin air on the Alaskan mountain tops, but up there, I experienced conviction. Alaska is where I wanted to be, to thrive. I felt alive in the crisp air, immersed in emptiness, and I didn’t want it to end. Somehow, somewhere, through the practice of yoga and recognition of my own needless suffering, balance between decisions and non-decisions dawned on me. This does not mean a return to venn diagrams and nightmares full of endless options, but instead perspective on my existence in space: decisions are made and unmade, stuff happens, and I can choose to label the result good or bad, or it can just happen, all of it successful.
I decide, you decide, god decides, does it matter…the important decision is how will I/you react; the most effective way to choose my life’s path is to choose to be happy.
Moving to St.Thomas, I will consider that a non-decision. JB was offered his current law clerk position a year after he applied for it while we were living in a van – it was a surprise to us both considering he interviewed in a Starbucks restroom (after taping an Out Of Order sign on the door). To be blunt, I don’t particularly care for sharing my home with rats, mosquitoes, ants (at least three species), termites, moths, no see ums, roaches; I don’t care for the mold growing on all my clothing or the plague of rashes I’ve endured; I don’t care for the motorists who claim driving in the middle of the road to be an inalienable right; I don’t care for the overpriced, unappetizing produce selection. And sometimes, I let that old friend, victim-hood rear it’s ugly head. I entertain her and even invite her to stay for the day, maybe the week.
Thankfully, I have the introspection of my practice and the mirror of my partner to re-gain perspective. Allowing me, to instead, be thankful for the tune of the breeze encouraging the dance of palm trees, the frogs’ song inviting the rain, the light shimmering off the ocean, the welcoming yoga community where I taught my first class. Bloom where you are planted. Right now I am a coconut tree in the Caribbean and maybe next year due to another non-decision I will be an apple tree in Washington.
So how did JB and I end up residents of this little Caribbean island? Beats me. Relinquish control, don’t let the pressure of life force your hand. Let indecision flood you, you just have to be accepting of how it turns out! There is a quote out there somewhere that relays this simple message: the path of life is easy and blissful for those not attached to the outcome.
Spoiler alert: you die.