Over on Brad Warners Hardcore Zen blog (link off to your right there) his latest update discusses his decision not to do something that pretty much everyone he knows and his ‘rational’ mind tells him to do.
He also makes mention of a curious fact ive noticed over and over in my life. Namely, that the old saying that “hindsight is 20/20 ” is really only true because we are too distracted/deluded to see with 20/20 clarity right now! Fortunately, its beginning to take less and less time to see the ‘right’ path and to see the results of those decisions without having to wait years or month for those results to sink in. Which isn’t too say that I don’t make dumb choices all the time (I do) but that the really big ones seem to fall into place in a way that works for me much more often. Maybe its just being older and having all that collective experience at my memory banks beck and call, but i believe that to a much greater degree it stems from trusting my natural instincts.
Part of my philosophy of life is to consider every single thing that has happened in my life was the best possible thing that could have happened. Yes even the really shitty stuff. So I cant really recall many of those ‘bad’ decisions with regret, rather I look at them as learning experiences (“experience is a harsh mistress, but she raises strong children” goes one old saying. . .) Also, that person who made those choices and lived through the consequences is no longer the person i am now. I can recall them (as well as our faulty, all-too-human, memory can recall anything) and in so doing hopefully keep from making harmful repeats of those times, but I cant really say that that person is still around anymore.
All this is a verbose way of saying Ive learned to really trust my gut. Especially when dealing with those rare, but huge life changing choices we all get (must?) make here and there. It takes some pretty strange forms compared to what I’m used to, too. For example I spent the previous 10 years convinced that I never wanted to have children of my own. Sure I love kids, come from a big family, and like any human animal would like to pass on some of my (hopefully) good traits to another generation, but with my ex-wife neither of us wanted kids. So a year or so ago when Cara and I first started talking about a relationship she asked me flat out if i still meant that, she understandably didn’t want to get too invested with a guy who flat out didn’t want kids because she herself did eventually want a child. To my utter surprise and with not hesitation i told her that actually i did want to have children some day. I wasnt saying it because i wanted a relationship with her, in fact at that point i still wasn’t sure I wanted a relationship with anyone, but when i just opened my mouth and let my gut do the talking all the stories I had been convincing myself of to appease my ex went *plop!* and my true feelings came out. No one was more surprised than me to hear it out of my mouth and yet in all the time since then I haven’t regretted saying it once, at all! My instinct, it turned out, knew me a whole lot better than my ‘rational’ mind.
That lack of back peddling, regret, self-doubt, buyers remorse, whatever you wish to call it has become something normal in my life these days. I simply trust my gut and instead of worrying about what is the smart thing to do i simply do the right thing for me, lo and behold it turns out that the two are one and the same! I sometimes feel like its only when my pesky brain gets in the way that I end up putting a foot in my mouth or choosing to zig when i ought to zag, but its not really my brains fault, its just trying to be too clever for my own good.
Maybe our sub-consciousness is so connected to the rest of the universe that it knows the right way to go, maybe we just feel better about decisions when we decide to accept whatever comes of them instead of wanting our favorite little result only, or perhaps when we let god (in whatever form we understand it to be) run the show we don’t get steered wrong. I really don’t know the mechanism behind it and I’ve found that it really doesn’t need to be understood, but somehow there is that small, but strong voice within us that will speak up when we really really need it, sometimes what it tells us is counter-intuitive, but in the end Im now sure that gut instinct is the closest to being ‘right’ we can be.