Thursday, March 27, 2008

Making Choices

This week I finished reading the Alexandra Stoddard book, Making Choices, that has been on my to-read shelf for quite a long time. It caught my eye this week though and I decided to read it. I didn't actually enjoy it very much--the content wasn't particularly fresh or engaging and there was some sort of underlying tone of condescension to it that got on my nerves. Or maybe it was that she seemed sort of blithely dismissive of things--like, she told a story about a teenage girl trying to overdose on medications while her mother was having a committee meeting in the home and said something like, "if the girl's parents had allowed her space to express her frustrations, no doubt she would not have felt she had to go to such drastic lengths." Huh? Clearly this is her parents fault?! It wasn't like she said, "help me!" and they said "leave me alone I'm having a meeting." I thought teenagers were notoriously closed-mouthed about their feelings anyway, maybe her parents tried to let her express her frustrations and she wouldn't! There were other things like that just got on my nerves a little and seemed like "shallow" interpretations of other people's lives and experiences.

Anyway, the basic theme of the book though was, of course, making choices and how we choose most elements of our lives and how we respond to them. And, if we're complaining about things, we had better look at how we've chosen whatever it is we're complaining about. Something I identified with was her point about taking on volunteer commitments and then complaining about them/feeling put out by them. "Consider what your motives are when you accept responsibilities that make you feel frantic and frenzied. We can't blame others for inviting us to join a worthy cause. Whose choice is it to accept?"

And a quote from my Zen calendar:

"To be great, be whole; exclude nothing, exaggerate nothing that is you.
Be whole in everything. Put all you are into the smallest thing you do.
The whole moon gleams in every pool,
It rides so high."

--Fernando Pessoa

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