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The Art of Choosing

When choosing becomes imminent—be it a seemingly large or small choice—quietly sitting for a while with all of the options allows the finer truth of things to come through. It is in this waiting, this stillness, that the artful nature of making choices appears.

Many years ago I read a true account* of a woman who could no longer function in her daily life because she could not make any choices. Leaving behind any option was unbearable for her, rendering even the tiniest decision impossible. One day, her doctor read her Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken.” She came out of her frozen frame of mind soon after hearing the poem, its last lines recognizable to most of us: “…Two roads diverged in a wood, and I / — I took the one less traveled by, / And that has made all the difference.”

Yet it is in the first stanza that Frost shares the art of choosing: “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, / And sorry I could not travel both / And be one traveler, long I stood / And looked down one as far as I could…Then took the other…”

Long I stood. Only then did the choice come to him.

I came across this orange dragonfly in our pond the other day. It held on to a horsetail reed for the longest time, gracefully embodying stillness while the reed swayed in a strong breeze and the noonday heat.

Be the dragonfly. Know the right choice will make itself known as you listen to your own knowing, your own wisdom. Even as well-meaning advice and friendly confirmation sways your thoughts, ask: What is my heart urging me to hear? Am I honoring my intuition? Am I embracing the facts and connections my intellect is sharing with me? How and where in my body is my physical self giving me messages?

The practice is in the stillness. The listening. The trusting.

* Dr. Jack Leedy, “Poetry Therapy: The Use of Poetry in the Treatment of Emotional Disorders” 1969.


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