feeling troubled, avoiding trouble, dreading trouble, in trouble, getting out of trouble ... It's all we can see, all we can think of, all we can talk about, and, eventually, all we expect.
I took away from each conversation fresh insight on how each person responded to the world.
The ones that irked me the most were the people who seem particularly skilled at looking for the dark cloud behind every silver lining. For example, my news is a silver lining. Their response? Not so much. I heard people asking: 'Yuh sure yuh want do that?', 'Yuh sure is the right time?', 'Yuh talk to God bout it?' or 'Yuh sure this is the right one?'
1. I know some of these responses were well-intentioned
2. At first glance, they might seem sage and sanctified. But are they?
3. OR are these questions just expressions of habitual doubt and fear?
I observed that the people asking these questions were usually the ones who are less inclined to ACT or DO. And their responses helped me to see why. Their questions are crutches for cowardice.
I know people who have spent more than a decade waiting for some obscure, mysterious, undefinable period/person known as 'the right time', 'the right one', or 'the right moment', or even 'God's time' - which often translates to 'no time', but never quite makes it to something useful, like 'no time like the present'.
These people live in chronic fear of making a decision, making a mistake, or of doing something that they believe will so devastate their lives, they will never be able to recover. The fear of being wrong so paralyses them that they convince themselves that they are better off with the discontent of the familiar, rather than the discomfort and uncertainty of the new. If you allow it, they will try to impose this kind of existence on you.
My short formula to alleviate that nightmarish and futile cycle of doubt and inertia is:
- Weigh your options
- Weigh the pros and cons
- Make a decision
Then take responsibility for your choice and make the most of it.
The friends who asked me these questions are the same ones who tend to think negatively about life. They hear good news, and immediately conjure up worst-case scenarios. They immediately try to throw dark clouds of worry over every new development.
I have learnt to watch out for and avoid these kinds of people. Watch out for people whose every statement of caution comes tinged with portents of pain. Watch out for people who genuinely think they're saying things that will help you, but are actually introducing you to fear, doubt and double-mindedness. If you're not careful, under their influence, your life will start to seem like one everlasting exercise in pathetic 'coulda, woulda, shudda's.
Learn to celebrate when good things happen for you or others. Once all the necessary checks and considerations have been made - the decision to boldly go forward in life is one that ought to be met with enthusiasm and grace. Don't ignore the many kindnesses life offers you daily. Quit waiting for the next storm to appear. In a moment of peace, accept it and believe that this could be the way things stay for a very long time.
Peace is possible as a DAILY way of life. I know it. I live it. And I'm never going back.