I am going to tell you a story I have never told aloud. It is a story my mind has returned to often. When I was younger, maybe ten or eleven I can’t recall exactly, I was offered an opportunity. An experienced cricket coach in the region we lived saw potential in my batting and invited me to attend extra training sessions he would coach. There would be a bowling machine and he would offer his knowledge and expertise to help me improve my technique and decision making. In the way young kids sometimes do I overthought the opportunity. What would batting against a bowling machine might be like? I’d never done it before so it was scary and unfamiliar. Without stopping to think about the potential for improvement, or discussing the opportunity with my dad or grandad, I made my decision. I was not going to take the coach up on the offer.
In my life from then until now many opportunities have arisen, some of their own accord, others I have actively worked hard to make happen. More occasions than not I have let them pass me by, declined them, or actively avoided them. On many of these occasions I was left thinking ‘what if?’ In the future, often when something hasn’t work out the way I wanted I think back and wonder if my life could have turned out differently if I had taken even a small proportion of these opportunities.
I often find myself languishing in the past, thinking I could have done something differently, worked harder, or dived in before imagining all the possible outcomes – good and bad. No matter how hard I try, I am unable to travel back to the past and change any decision I have made. Where I am right now I am not able to drop everything in my life and completely change course. Few of us have the luxury of available finances and time to do so. To make big changes I need to think ahead and plan accordingly, to make sure I manage any stress that presents itself. At the moment this is stress that might grow from starting new jobs, moving house, promoting and offering my music for listening and writing for reading.
We are responsible for the choices we have made in the past, but wallowing there prevents us moving forward. It prevents us taking new opportunities, ones that might allow us to grow. Learning from how we’ve handled decision making in the past helps us improve how we do it in the future. Knowing who we trust to talk to when making decisions will give a sounding board to hear our own thoughts more honestly out loud, and receive wisdom from others.
Letting go of agency about any part of our lives is difficult, especially about things we care very deeply about. When I try and work through any decision by myself I often find my thoughts intertwining with each other, becoming an indiscernible mess. Finding truth in any of my thoughts becomes almost impossible. At these times, I pray, honestly and openly. Sometimes the sentences I say are simple, yet I wonder if they make any sense: ‘Lord, I feel lost, broken, confused, and alone. I don’t know the direction to find appropriate work, a life-giving place to call home, or how to appropriately care about those around me. Be with me as I go into today, and tomorrow.’ Saying whatever words out loud to God, someone else, or to ourselves, can help us more coherently make sense of our thoughts. Sometimes when I do I feel better straight away. Sometimes I wonder if anyone is listening – even if I’m talking to someone else or myself. Other times it takes a good night’s sleep, waking up and having a good breakfast in the sunshine to feel better. Still other times, a conversation with a close friend helps make sense of the fog that settles in my mind.
Do not underestimate the power of good, meaningful, and honest conversation. Spending time in the presence of people we trust, speaking when appropriate, listening to listen, can help in more ways than we are aware of.
Are there any obvious choices coming up for you to make in the near future? Are there any choices you have made in the recent past that are still on your mind? If you haven’t yet, is there someone you feel comfortable talking these through with?
Be good, keep good, and sleep good dear readers. Peace.