“May your choices reflect your hopes not your fears.” Nelson Mandela
My beautiful mother sent this quote to me over the weekend. And while I had to read it a few times to make sure it didn’t sneakily espouse her most recent diatribe such as, “May your choices give me grand babies I hope, like ALL of your peers,” it has yet to leave my consciousness.
It triggered my curiosity about the choices we have available to us in today’s world; about what it means to have quality of life, to have fulfillment; and what it means to live in either a reactive or proactive state of being. Nelson Mandela’s words reminded me that we are all writing our own scripts for our life’s film. We have screenwriting choices that we can make from a fearful place—which often ends up creating a horror film—or from a hopeful place—like a comedy or drama with a happy ending. Depending on our point of view, we set our characters—ourselves—up for either grueling catastrophe or enduring success.
When our character runs from the monster that is chasing them, at some point they cannot help but stop. They pull the car over and check the rearview; they find a tree, hide behind it, lean and look over their shoulder as they catch their breath; or they hook into an alley, rest their hands on their knees, and pant as they side-eye back in the direction of the monster. Running from what we are scared of—be it our childhood, our past, our fear of failure, or our own fear that we are unworthy—is unsustainable. At some point we are going to stop, pull over, out of paranoia or pure exhaustion. When we are running from something, our path is scattered and all over the place, our focus is in the opposite direction of where our body, our momentum is taking us. We are inefficiently expending massive amounts of energy. We cannot see clearly ahead of us, for constantly looking back, so we miss those on the side of the road offering their help. We miss the direct routes that life’s GPS has highlighted for us. We miss…everything that is happening around us in real time. This is a human-natured result when we run from that which we fear; when we constantly look backwards. When we let ourselves be consumed with what we cannot change: our past.
However, if we are running towards something—if we have put our desire out in front of us, and plotted that destination point into our life’s GPS navigation system—we suddenly awaken to the fact that the whole world is conspiring on our behalf. Our body and our focus begin to work together, our movements become fluid in the direction of our momentum, allowing us an unparalleled aerodynamic efficiency that can last far longer. We are privy to the choice of paths that lay before us, knowing that any one of them will allow us to reach our destination. We finally can see our support system, those that we love or look up to, on the sidelines holding out water, holding up signs, holding in their hearts the utter belief that we can cross the finish line. We become strong, streamlined, syncopated endurance athletes when we run towards something; when we incessantly look forward. When we enthrall ourselves with creating what could be: our future.
When we finally get our mind, our body to start moving together in the direction of our goals, we open up incredible opportunities for ourselves. We broaden our scope with an exposure to see what is possible in time to course-correct if we need to. We widen our ability to see those who have blazed the trail ahead of us, or to see unbeaten brush through which we can choose to blaze a new path altogether. And most importantly, we give ourselves time to experience life’s greatest gift: the present. Once we set our GPS in the direction of our dreams, we can then choose to focus our attention on the most powerful position: NOW.
Though there are benefits to glimpsing backwards occasionally—it allows us to excavate inciting incidents of trauma from our formative years, to do the work to emotionally heal what had fractured on impact, and once healed, then assign a different story to the scar left behind so that we can move forward healthily in one piece. There are benefits to keeping our eyes on the prize of our future as well—it keeps us moving forward, it gives us a sense of purpose greater than just ourself so that we can keep our motivation through the difficult times, and it inspires growth and progress, for which all humans strive during our earthly tenure. The sweetest-spot, however, is when we choose to spend the majority of our time in the present tense. For it is here that we can enrapture ourselves with the trifecta of alignment between our body, our mind and our spirit. It is here, in this space, that we exercise our passion. It is here where we feel the full range of human emotion—radical joy to devastating sorrow. It is here that we taste the delicious flavors of life, hear the diverse music of our world, see the colorful spectrum of a rainbow, touch every texture to which we are exposed. It is here in which we experience what it means to be human. What it means to live, to love, to laugh. It is here where we are most alive.
And it is in this present state of alignment that we make the best choices for ourselves, for our future, for our lives. Choices that are made out of pure unadulterated hope, from a happy, healthy and whole state of being.
Choices that bring our scripts to life in sweeping, epic inspirational films full of passion, purpose, love, family…and grand babies.