In philosophy classes in college, I remember much discussion about free will. I remember how difficult it was for me to work with the soft clay of my spirituality/religion/philosophy of the time; at once there was form but no form, convictions but infinite potentiality. There were times when I wondered why these philosophers made such a big deal about it anyway. (Obviously philosophy wasn’t my major.)
My faith and beliefs aren’t so much clay anymore but a beautiful tree that grows even from the clay of the earth. The belief that we have choice and free will is one of those branches. Having children, especially older ones, and following my life path, I see this in every moment, day in and day out.
My older son chooses what he does in the morning. He’s the early riser, but often he’s the last to walk out the door. Our youngest is choosing whether or not to tell the truth these days. Our oldest is choosing to speak with kind words or anger. We can watch the wheels moving in the mind of our six-year-old as he chooses to do what he wants to do or what he knows he should do.
While we do make choices in every moment, not all of them seemingly life-altering, there are those times when we deliberate and discern. We try our best to look down the road to see what future that choice will hold for us.
In a discussion with my husband, I told him I almost felt I didn’t have a choice regarding what may very well be my life’s work. He helped me much when he said he was sorry that my God didn’t give me a choice. An awakening in my awareness occurred. Of course I have a choice. God has granted us free will. It’s my choice. But I can’t think of many times in this life when I have chosen to do anything because it was easier. This life to me isn’t about just barely getting by. I have a responsibility to learn and grow and evolve and mature, not only for my own benefit. I don’t believe one can embody positive change without affecting others, too. Ultimately, I have made a choice to choose the road that pushes my limits until they break open a new understanding.
I cannot force this perspective on others, let alone my kids. I may very well have a child or two or four who are content to be here now and enjoy the moment simply for the sake of being blissfully present and unaware of greater suffering. This is hard for me to imagine, but it’s possible.
As ever, I have a choice whether to be personally entangled in the lives of my children and others, or I can choose to love unconditionally. To live compassion. It sounds stronger than “to live compassionately.” Oh, that we all could and would choose compassion in every moment.
We always have a choice. The lesson continues.