Relaxing beside the fire last weekend, watching even more snow fall, I wrestled with whether I should call or not call an acquaintance I suspected to be in a deep funk. I was worried about whether my call would be perceived badly. While over-thinking the matter I picked up a magazine - Tricycle, The Buddhist Review, Summer 2013 - and read Dessert of Divination: The Fine Art of Making Fortune Cookies by Noa Jones.
I am no cookie chef, but I am very sensitive to the gut-wrenching process people put themselves through to arrive at the divine truth of what they should do next, so I loved this fine passage:
"Unlike gluttony or lust, the desire for prognostication may seem like an innocuous thing, but it can be just as insatiable and crazy-making as any other addiction. The suffering of not knowing what's next is especially acute when love is in the air or evaporating from the air, or when standing at a crossroads, pulled in two directions, a decision pressing, a gaping void ahead."
I imagined an image (like in the photograph above) of soul-searchers cloaked in robes, looking up to the heavens, some reaching up with their arms and begging for divine intervention — a sign — about what to do next. I thought to myself when looking at the photograph, 'if only those outstretched arms and seeking eyes would signal to the gods that these despairing people mean business, and an answer must be produced.'
I remember my own youthful desperation and then endless search for answers to my many questions of, 'what should I do?'
At 21 or 22 I was deciding on whether I should stay in Montreal or move to Toronto. I tried beta versions of the problem solving techniques I discussed in my previous blog, Making decisions. When no answers surfaced, I threatened myself with a form of punishment for someone hooked on movement: 'You are to sit with the feeling of not knowing what to do, and not move until the answer reveals itself to you.'
It was summer, so I moved a mattress onto the back porch of the apartment I shared with friends, lay down, and waited for the answer. I figured it should come in by dinnertime.
No such luck.
After a couple of days, I began to negotiate with the god of decisions: 'I don't need the ultimate truth, the absolute TRUTH, but please give me at least a small truth, a sign!'
A day later, I announced I was moving to Toronto, and did so.
A year later, I was back in Montreal.
A year after that, I was in France.
You get the picture. I was searching and seeking the true way, the next best thing, and asking the gods to deliver me wisdom.
Of course, it's impossible to have divine understanding of what comes next. You never know. Better to think out your next move as best you can, then act with all your heart. Even at the very best of times there always will be, as Noa Jones wrote, "a gaping void ahead"
My family, relationships, movement, nature, flexibility of mind, exploration of alternative perspectives & openness are central to my life.