I started reading “A life of being, having, and doing enough” by Wayne Muller over the weekend. I’m only 50 pages in, but already so much of this book as resinated with me.
I’ve included a few passages below that particularly struck me. Do you feel overwhelmed by the amount you feel you must accomplish each day and guilty when your to-do list is incomplete? Or experience a near paralysis when making choices?
page 6In spite of any compelling physcial or spiritual benefits, we fear we have no authentic, trustworthy permission to stop. If we do stop to rest without some very good reason or some verifiable catastrophe, we feel guilty, we worry about getting in trouble, we feel we are just lazy, not carrying our weight, not a team player, or will be left behind.
page 32-33Two things combine to increase our suffering as we try to comply with this avalanche of choices. First, we feel compelled to make decisions more quickly, which ensures they will be less thoughtful, reflective, or accurate. And second, we feel that the potential impacts and consequences of each choice are so far-reaching, it is impossible to know if we have ever chosen carefully enough, wisely enough. We are likely to find ourselves tied in knots. Each choice we make can feel as if we are either ensuring or destroying a vast array of future possibilities, as if worlds are being created and destroyed in front of our eyes with each decision. We feel responsible to choose perfectly each time, as each way we go somehow decides the shape of our destiny. Choices take on more and more weight, as we project their impact further and further into the future. What will this yes, this no, mean for the next few minutes, the next few hours, days, weeks, or years? Our wanting to be able to control, predict, or ensure a good and hopeful future can make us feel overwhelmed in every moment, as each and every choice will either keep open, or eliminate, countless future possibilities; we seal the fate of our lives and those around us. Who wouldn’t feel exhausted and overwhelmed if we were always, every single day, in this terrible position of unbearable responsibility? But we are not. Because the only real authority we ever have over the course, direction and trajectory of our lives is how we listen whenever we are met with one of these relentless choices points, how we listen for what feels, in this moment, to be the most clear, true, next right thing. In the same way, the following moment will offer its own new and unexpected choice, which helps create the next moment, and our moments shape our days, as our days become our lives.
page 12When approaching a task, a responsiblity, or some choice between this and that, take a moment before you begin and ask yourself: Am I truly able to say that I really love this? Or is it more honest to say that I can handle this? If we find that we love less and less of what we do, what we choose, or what we agree to-and feel more and more like we are barely able to handle our days-it is likely we will experience relatively few genuine feelings of enough in our daily life. On the other hand, the more we choose the next right thing based on what we love, and less on what we can handle, we are likely to have many sources of sufficiency and nourishment.
I will be working on making my choices moment by moment rather than projecting their presumed outcome over the course of my life. In my effort in achieving a life of enough, I’ll remember to choose what I love more often, not what I can handle.