One of the most powerful practices I’ve used and stuck with has been learning to choose the inevitable.
The practice is simple, at times difficult, but immensely rewarding.
The first time I started doing this was quite by accident. I was in my early-mid 20s and had friends getting a bit freaked about turning 25 and getting older (now 44, it seems odd that it was a worry).
I meditated on this whole idea, and I decided I’d do something different, partly to rebel, partly also it was a fascinating concept that no one in my circle seemed to be doing: ‘what if I choose to get older?’
So I did.
The Art of Getting Older
I chose to get older on my next birthday, I embraced it, I stepped into it really consciously.
It was profoundly liberating.
I intentionally looked at what I wanted to let go of and bring in for the next year.
I’ve been doing this ever since. It’s become a personal ritual.
Often when I tell people about this their response is something along the lines of: but it’s going to happen anyway, how can you choose it?
The Power of Choosing
But it’s exactly choosing it that changes the whole equation, the whole relationship with the inevitable event.
It takes it from being something that’s a stress (like getting older is for so many people) into something that has power. Meaning. Potential.
I suspect a part of people ageing is the stress they have around getting older.
I didn’t, however, just stop there.
I began choosing all sorts of things. I chose to get up and go to bed. I chose to feel hungry. I chose my yearning for love and connection. I even chose death.
Choosing the inevitable changes everything
It changes the entire experience when you choose something. It can still be something you don’t have any control over happening, but it transforms your relationship to it. You are no longer just being acted on, you are acting with.
If you’re still struggling with the idea consider this. Let’s say someone is throwing a punch at you. You know it’s going to hit. Do you just stay there and let it land or do you move so that flow with the hit, not only lessening it’s impact but potentially transforming the hit into your advantage?
I’ll take the later any day.
And it’s the same with pretty much everything coming your way. You know your birthday and getting older (or eating, or death, etc.) is coming at some point, so how can you flow with it, turn it to your advantage, utilise it?
(Just a note on the death thing, lot of spiritual traditions encourage meditating on death, and this is part of the reason).
And just keep on choosing
I did my best to choose some really uncomfortable situations. I began to choose my past, which was intense and difficult with somethings.
I kept practicing choosing what was happening to me.
What I found is that my sense of power, of ability, of capacity to act increased. I felt a lot more empowered to make choices, and most critically, to choose what the inevitable thing meant and how I responded to it.
Interestingly one of the hardest and most profound things I’ve chose is to live. To be fully here. 100% committed.
Right now while you’re reading this, what do you choose? Is there something inevitable you can choose? It can be as simple as choosing to rest tonight, or as big as choosing some emotional challenge that’s going on.
I’d really recommend practicing on Birthdays. It makes them a lot more fun.
This is a simple and powerful practice that can transform you.
What do you choose?