Saturday, January 10, 2015

Making the Choice to Make the Choice

On Friday, I got my running clothes on as soon as I woke up. I do this on days when I plan to run so that I won't talk myself out of it. I walked Lucia to the bus though soupy fog, a weather state that for me would be a perfect sit on the couch and read day. On my way home from the bus stop, I got a text from my running partner that she had to cancel at the last minute because her daughter was sick home from school. I was bummed. This would be my 6 plus mile day and I knew that without Kate, I would lose some of my mojo.  As soon as I got home, before I had a chance to start making the chili I needed to make for an event that night, before I took down the Christmas tree, before I had another cup of coffee, I made myself go running.

When I run on my own I listen to music or podcasts. On Friday I listened to a Dharma talk about choices. It was the perfect narrative for my mental state that morning. Choices, the wise woman said, are often hard at the beginning. The challenge, the resistance to make a choice, is why lots of us just choose not to make them at all. It's why many people don't try new things; because that initial choice to do it is really hard. Like the start of a run, it's never really fun. You have to make the choice to stick it out. And then, after a bit, your choice is made and you are no longer in that deliberating space.  I have the same experience often- when I'm cooking or baking or cleaning or writing or paying bills. There's an initial grind. I have to "get through" the space from making the choice to being in the choice that I've made.

On Friday, I didn't run as far as I would have with Kate, but I ran a solid 5 1/2 miles and I felt so glad I'd stuck with my running plan. When I got home I was able to notice that tentative space at the beginning of my chili making. At the start of cutting the onions and garlic, I wasn't thrilled, I wasn't fully in it, but I consciously told myself that this space was temporary, and sure enough, I eventually succumbed and was able to enjoy the activity of cooking. Then I moved on to the Christmas tree...

It happens like this in yoga too. Many of us struggle through the first few postures. Arghhh, do I want to do this? Do I really want to be here? We make the choice to practice yoga, to get into the practice room, but there is often that tentativeness at the beginning, those moments where we are not fully committed. And then, almost always after the first few posture we are through the part of actually making the choice, and we are able to be fully in our practice.

For me, recognizing that there is a natural need to make time to transition into a choice has been incredibly liberating. It feels like a new permission to give deliberate space to my resistance, to acknowledge that this is part of getting to the next phase.  Knowing that making the choice to do something- a new activity or an old one-- may come with some discomfort at the beginning, is ultimately an opportunity to take lots of new plunges,  do more new things. Make the choice to make the choice.

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