A few blog posts ago I discussed the perils of passion in choosing your path; whether it’s a mate or a career. So you want to know, how do you choose these things? What method works without the perils I discussed before?
The hint for this is in a book I mentioned in another post; Dorothy Sayers Gaudy Night. I reproduce the relevant quotations here.
“Yes,” said Harriet, “but I am one of them.I disconcert myself very much. I never know what I do feel.”
“I don’t think that matters, provided one doesn’t try to persuade one’s self into appropriate feelings.”
“But one has to make some sort of choice”, said Harriet. “And between one desire and another, how is one to know when things are really of overmastering importance?”
“We can only know that,” said Miss de Vine, “when they have overmastered us.”
There is much in this small dialogue. Let’s start with the first answer Miss de Vine gives Harriet. She tells her that her feelings are not of overwhelming importance unless you try to persuade your self into appropriate feelings. This has at least two lessons. 1. Be patient. Don’t be in a hurry to get to the ‘right’ result. Let it unfold and enjoy the feeling without necessarily jumping into disastrous action. 2 Don’t let other peoples beliefs in what you should do influence you for a moment. They are allowed to have feelings about your issues but should never be allowed to decide your path. It is yours and you walk it alone.
The second answer Miss de Vine gives Harriett is that one knows when you are doing something or chosen something of consequence when the thing overmasters you. Now what the hell does that mean? Overmaster means that you have been conquered by a superior force. Usage of this word in classic English literature implies an outside force or passion. So am I just logic chopping here? Is overmastering just passion in disguise? I don’t think so. Remember the context; you are trying to make a choice between at least two directions. Being mastered by the choice means that the fundamental direction your energy and attention flow is in that direction. It is what you choose to do when you have a spare moment. It relieves your stress. It gives you sustenance.
If we go back to Harriet’s life we see that the thing that kept her alive after horrible events afflicted her was her work; her writing. When all else failed her writing kept her focused and dare we say it, happy.
These discussions mean that choice needs to be patient, personal, and flow in a natural way. Angst need not apply. Watch carefully what you do and think. See where your attention is directed in the odd moments. See your self out of the corner of your eye and find the joy you already are experiencing. That is your choice. Not angst, not passion, not lust but the pure flow of your attention. The final piece is trust. Trust your self and the Universe.
Try this on some decisions you are dealing with in the next week. It doesn’t matter how trivial those decisions are. Play with the process. You’ll be surprised at how things become clearer.