Choice

5 years ago

I've talked before on my blog about how I've limited my options by predetermining how I wanted my life to turn out. It's something a lot of people do and generally something which life does everything it can to get us out of the habit of doing. The problem arrises when we struggle against life and look at the difficulties we face as some personal attack, rather than an opportunity to learn and view our world differently.

Each of us has a map of the world. Each map is as unique as we are because how we view it is entirely down to the experiences we've had, the life we've lived, and the beliefs we hold. Some people have huge maps, stretching out so far that they can't ever see the entire thing at once. Other people, however, have very tiny maps. Small things which show very little and offer few choices.

There is an analogy used in Buddhist teachings for how we limit ourselves. When you have a small map (you have a closed mind, you live in fear of change, you feel that you don't have any choices, you've made up your mind about something) it's like looking at the sky through a straw. You look at the sky through a small tube and see only a tiny circle of it. This circle might be blue but it's not difficult for a cloud to come along and the circle of sky becomes blocked. It might be a rain cloud and then that tiny patch of sky looks grey. Perhaps it's frightening, perhaps it's dull. Either way, our view is so limited that all we can see is that single, narrow point. 

But if we take away the straw suddenly there is a huge expanse of sky. There might be solid cloud cover but we can see how the clouds move and boil in the high winds above us. There is curvature to the clouds, points of dark and light. There may be patches of blue showing through. There will be a place where the sun is shining through as a bright orb. Birds may fly across it. Planes may come into view. The sky is open and there is far more to look at, and far more for us to see.

Whether we stick to our small map or keep looking through that single straw is our choice. The size of our world, the options available to us, are limited only be our own beliefs. If you make up your mind about something you might just be folding up a corner of your map, hiding it away. When you change your mind about something, let go of an idea or opinion, you are unfolding a corner of the map you may never have realised was there.

This sounds lovely, I know, but it's not easy. It's not meant to be easy. It's not meant to be impossible either. It's a challenge and it's your choice if you're going to take on the challenge. Your choice as to whether or not you want to keep looking through that tiny straw or if you want to take it away.

Having a map that stretches off further than we can see can be frightening, but it's also incredibly liberating. Think, if you had all the options in the world, if you had an infinite number of choices available to you, what would your life be like? Who would you be? Where would you go? What would you do?

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