Springingtiger's Blog


The Language of Choice: It’s What You Got.

I am sitting at my computer dosed with pain killers, my left ankle, knee and elbow strapped up and my eyebrow grazed. I fell on my way home from the pub quiz in Glasgow’s Admiral Bar  ̶ and no, I was not drunk. Did I choose for this to happen? Well it’s what I got. So what did I choose? I chose to take a lift home rather than the bus and hence I chose to walk in the opposite direction from usual. I chose not to look down at the ground as I walked over unfamiliar pavement even though I know that Glasgow City Council has a bad record of not maintaining roads and pavements. Had I watched where I was putting my feet I might have avoided the hole in the pavement and not fallen. I did not want to fall, I did not intend to fall, you could say I did not choose to fall, however the choices I made led to me falling. I made the choices I made and I am responsible.

Being responsible, having fallen, I choose not to go into victim mode. In victim mode I could blame the council for my fall, when I am responsible I can accept that they may have failed to maintain the pavement, that does not mean they are to blame for my fall and why should I surrender my responsibility and power to them? Besides where does the blame stop? With the council or with the government that imposes austerity cuts on the country? With the government, or with the economic system that contains the belief that the cuts are necessary. It doesn’t matter how much blame I place outside myself it makes no difference to me. I cannot but remember Mark Rylance’s portrayal of the Soviet spy Colonel Rudof Abel in the film ‘Bridge of Spies’. Abel remained calm and unemotional no matter what happened, when his lawyer asked him whether he was worried Abel responded, “Would it help?” It never helps to allow one’s emotions to be determined by outside forces even when one’s circumstances are not entirely under one’s own control.

There is an exercise called What am I Choosing? In which a person examines their feelings and circumstances and deliberately chooses them so that they become responsible for what is happening to them and how they experience those events. In responsibility I chose this morning not to remain in bed, but to strap up my various damaged joints and attend an appointment I had in my schedule. Fortunately I am equipped with ankle braces and knee braces and various other braces and strapping because I choose not to allow joint problems to stop me doing what I choose. Had my injuries been serious enough to keep me in bed then I would have responsibly chosen to remain in bed, I chose not to and it was the right choice. Had it been the wrong choice and had it made me worse then I alone would have been responsible.

I am very aware of my injuries at the moment, but I am choosing to not define the sensations, although intense, as ‘pain’. I find it more empowering to be aware of the specific sensations without adding any value judgement to them. When I find it impossible to detach from the discomfort enough to remain analytical, I shall probably choose to take another painkiller, perhaps I may take an arnica bath or even attempt some self hypnosis. Whatever I choose it will not be an uncontrolled reaction but a deliberate choice arising from being at cause.

Rudolf Abel was able to remain in control ̶ at cause ̶ even in gaol. In the film his lawyer ̶ James B, Donovan played by Tom Hanks ̶ also demonstrates the power to remain at cause. In his hostage negotiations he held to his stand to free not only the American spy Francis Gary Powers but also the innocent student Frederic Pryor regardless of the pressure to sacrifice the student. No matter what obstacles and pressures were applied to him he remained focused on his Primary Choice. Donovan remained at cause

When a person is at cause however limiting their circumstances may be and however restricted their options, their choice remains free. Even were that choice to lead to their death they choose without constraint. Who they are being transcends the circumstances in which they find themselves.

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