How many times have you said, “If only I could go back and do __________ again”? Well, the thing is, if you could go back and do it again, you would do it exactly the way that you did it. The only way that you could have done it differently would have been if you had advance knowledge of the outcome. Since we are not given advance notice of the outcomes of our decisions, we make the only appropriate decision or choice.
When we are babies, we make our decisions based upon our natures. Do I take that? Do I try this? Do I stick this thing in my mouth? Our inner natures are as unique to us as our fingerprints, or a zebra’s stripes. Then, we make our next tier of decisions based upon the outcomes of the last. Did it hurt? Did it incur disapproval? Did it taste like #$%^? The outcomes of those natural impulses guide our next level of choices.
Later, as children, we begin to make choices according to our natural instincts, tempered by the outcome of our prior choices and now, further tempered by the norms established in our home environment. Steps, one step leading to the next, and to the next, and so on, always following a natural order.
Then, we go to school and encounter peers. They add a new layer to our decision making process. Any decisions that we make at that time, are based upon the progression of each of the previous steps. Each of those steps colors our perception of the world of choices and decisions that we face each day. And each step adds a tint to the world that we perceive.
I don’t know where it came from, but, as far back as I can remember I felt an overwhelming sense of duty and responsibility. As a child, I was to ‘good’ one. This was not the one that I wanted to be. Clearly, I envied the ‘bad’ ones, they had so much more fun. But I felt compelled to be good. And it was a thankless choice. I was like the brother who stayed home and did his chores while the Prodigal Son had a ball, blew his inheritance and then was thrown a party for coming home broke (that one was my sister).
After escaping my Cinderella childhood, my mother and my grandmother both lost their ability to walk and so, I bought a house and moved them in. One day I was complaining about how horrible it was reliving my childhood in spades, at 33 years old my friend said to me, “Well, it was your choice!” Never for one minute, during the entire process of inviting them to live with me, did I consider it to be a choice. For me, for who I was and my perception of the world, it was not a choice it was what I had to do.
Now, I could say that if I had it to do over again, I would have done it differently. But that is not true. There are only two possible ways that I would have made a different choice. One way would have been if I had known how badly it was going to turn out. The other, would have been had I been born someone else, and raised by other people. I made no choice.
You see as much as we believe that we make choices, in retrospect, it has to be clear that we do not. Whether we know it or not, we are doing what is the only clear thing to do based upon our perception of the issue. It is just like voting. We choose to vote for a candidate who best represents what we perceive as the right things. Humans do not make choices. We take the next logical step based upon who we are and the life that we have lived. If we had it to do all over again, with no future insight and no additional input from some new sources, we would do it all over again in exactly the same way that we did it the first time.
This means, that we act in accordance with who we are, and what we believe is the best way to act within the options that we perceive available. We never make the wrong choice, we never make a mistake, we act, at all times, appropriately. We make our decisions in a manner that is completely consistent and appropriate. If a fiction writer is good, he or she will develop a character that is complete enough, that we believe his choices and can foresee the direction that he will take. A good writer will give a character believability – which means that his or her actions will be consistent with that character. This means, that in real life, unless we are crazy, our decisions will also follow a consistent path, a path that is true to who we are and how we have incorporated the outcomes of prior actions into ourselves.
Understanding this, understanding that I will always follow a path that is true to who I am, and where I believe that I fit in my perceived world, means, that I do not make choices. I do not make mistakes, my actions reflect who I am and what I see – through the eyes of who I am. Today, I would not make all of the choices that I made yesterday – only – because I know how they all turned out, only – because the way that they turned out has given me new experiences from which to draw and grow into who I am today.
So, don’t buy into failure, don’t buy into mistakes. Believe, that each step appears before us to lead us to the next – no errors – no missteps – only lessons. The outcome of each step is not the result of our choices but the next step that Spirit places before us.