Listening to the news these days can be an invitation to concern, suffering, compassion, action, and many other responses. I’ve been thinking lately about the power of the moment-to-moment choices we make as we move through our daily lives, whether our choices lead to action or non-action, and how that reflects the quality and nature of those choices. Here’s a quotation from Joanna Macy that speaks to what I’ve been thinking about:
“The obvious choice, then, is to extend our notions of self-interest. For example, it would not occur to me to plead with you, ‘Don’t saw off your leg. That would be an act of violence.’ It wouldn’t occur to me (or to you) because your leg is part of your body. Well, so are the trees in the Amazon rain basin. They are our external lungs. We are beginning to realize that the world is our body.” ~ Joanna Macy, Greening of the Self
I would add to this quotation that this also applies to every one of our brothers and sisters in our global human family, as well as to all our kin of every species within every form of life on this planet.
Both politically and environmentally, we see people making choices each day that either support and serve collective well-being, or serve self-interest without concern for collective consequences. For each of us, certain issues will be vividly in the foreground of our awareness, while different issues may well be important to other people. Whatever the focus of your particular attention, interest, and heart-oriented care, notice what lives in the foreground for you right now. And, there may be more than one issue that feels equally important. There’s no right answer here. Each of us resonates with what matters to us and with the choices we make as we move through our daily lives.
For this week’s practice, I invite you to pay even more attention to your moment-to-moment choices. Without judging yourself, notice the choices—or lack of choices—that surprise you when you focus on them more deeply. Are there things you care about that you turn away from because it feels too painful or overwhelming to allow them into full conscious awareness? Are there other issues that upset you to the degree that you can’t think clearly about what you want to do in response to what upsets you? Are there moments in the day when kindness arises in you and you act on it? Or, are there times when an impulse to kindness or compassion arises and you refrain from acting?
Each of these moments represents choices made, one way or another. It’s helpful to remember that inaction is as powerful and definite a choice as is action. The important thing in this practice is to be kind to yourself. We all make choices that disappoint us and we all make choices that we feel deeply good about. For this practice, the process is to bring compassion and kindness to yourself as you explore your relationship with choices as you participate in these distressing times.
As with all these practices, remember that there is no right or wrong way to do this one. Instead, it is one more opportunity to be even more conscious of how you move through your world, your everyday activities, and of the quality of internal experience you offer yourself on a moment-to-moment basis.
Here’s a quotation from Jane Goodall to close this practice…
“There is still so much in the world worth fighting for. So much that is beautiful, so many wonderful people working to reverse the harm, to help alleviate the suffering and so many young people dedicated to making this a better world. All conspiring to inspire us and to give us hope that it is not too late to turn things around, if we all do our part.” ~ Jane Goodall