We’ve all been faced with impossible decisions, choices that seemed to have terror built into either end.
But I have recently realized that it isn’t really possible to make the “wrong choice” — unless you think you absolutely, certifiably, categorically and unequivocally know what’s best at all times. Unless you have somehow accessed that vast view of the grand scheme of things, and can absolutely say with utter certainty what would be best.
Case in Point: My Dear Sweet Friend
Recently my best friend became ill. This is a being who has been with me for 10 years now, through some of the most hellish and terrifying times of my life. He has loved me unconditionally and steadfastly for every second, of every minute, of every hour of those 10 years, unfailingly. He has listened to me, and sat with me while I cried, and he has looked at me lovingly and unflinchingly, for all that time. He is also approximately 5 pounds, and covered in long flowing hair. He doesn’t speak a word, and he doesn’t have to. His presence says EVERYTHING.
Meet Kita, my beloved furry friend. On a recent camping trip he apparently inhaled a tiny fragment of food or something into his lung, and then began hacking this horrendously painful sounding cough. We were already leaving the very next morning anyway, so I took him to the vet as soon as we got back. She took x-rays and could see cloudiness in his lung. She wanted to put him under anesthesia so she could take a look down his throat, but I wanted to try ANYTHING but that first, because the last time a local vet put him under anesthesia his heart stopped and he almost died.
So she put him on antibiotics because she suspected if he did inhale a piece of food, that the lung had already gotten infected and the antibiotics would go to work on the infection and the cough. Aspiration Pneumonia was a possibility, so were some other things, we just didn’t know… but I was faced with a choice, as the next 2 then 3 then 4 then 5 days went by and the cough did not subside, I was being pushed into this impossible choice:
Do I let her put him under anesthesia for his own good so she can possibly heal him, but then he might die from the anesthesia? Or do I hold out to try to protect him from the possibility of death by anesthesia, only to kill him from not having his throat explored?
I couldn’t win. How could I win? It was an impossible choice because I WAS BELIEVING THAT I COULD MAKE THE “WRONG” CHOICE. And if I make the “wrong” choice, then it will be MY FAULT IF HE DIES.
My GAWD. Talk about pressure. Talk about impossible choices.
With what I was believing and thinking, either way, I’d be responsible for his death. WTF?
And it was just a thought. A thought in my head.
So I inquired within, and what I saw was such freedom that I had to share it with you.
I saw that there was no such thing as a “right” choice or a “wrong” choice, there was just a CHOICE, that’s all I had. Because in order for me to believe that there is a “right” choice and a “wrong” choice, I would have to have the incredible super-power of being able to SEE THE FUTURE! And not only that, but I would have to KNOW, absolutely, that that future could not be changed. I would have to see into the future with my super-powers and see that decision A led to Kita being okay — and that decision B led to Kita’s death. And having seen the future like this, the only way to make a “wrong” choice would be to see that decision A led to Kita being okay, and then intentionally choosing against that and being upset that it turned out that way. But people… we DON’T see the future. We DON’T have that super power. So we don’t have the possibility of making a “wrong” choice, we can only make a CHOICE.
Not right, not wrong. Just a choice. A choice, followed by infinite possibilities that we cannot see.
We cannot make a “wrong” choice because we simply do not know how things are going to turn out. Period. End of story. If you can’t know how it turns out, you can’t defend against it.
I also saw that thinking I could make the “wrong” choice, also implied that I thought I could absolutely could know that Kita’s passing would not ultimately be the best thing for his little soul, and for mine. And I love him more than anything, but I can’t know that. I can’t know when it’s his time to go, I can’t even know when it’s my time to go! How ridiculous.
So I spent that night making peace with his life and his possible (unavoidable) death, and all that his life has meant to me. I realized very deeply that he has been a reflection of my own self-love, the love I could not give myself for all those years of pain, and that he enabled me to finally find that in myself. And I cried those kinds of heaving sobs that quake your whole body, and leave your face in a giant red-puffy mess, and I let go of my illusion of control.
The next day, day 9, I called to make an appointment to take him in to have her put him under and look around. Knowing full-well, it was a choice, not a right one, not a wrong one, just a SHOT IN THE DARK, cause that shot in the dark is all I have. And I know it’s not “dark” anyway, it’s just another light that wants to be seen, I just don’t get to know which light that is; the light of his life, or the light of his death. The vet had gone away on vacation, the one that I trusted, so I called my sweet sister who’s a vet tech, and I got to go down and visit with her, and planned to take Kita in to the doctors at her work the next day, and lo-and-behold…
Kita got better.
Wouldn’t you know it, that sly little sucker — like the angel he is — was just waiting for me to realize a profound truth, giving me the GREAT GIFT of this insight, this gift of letting go, and then his wellness appeared. I didn’t have anything to do with it, I didn’t control the flow of life, I just did what I could in an instant, and let go.
Oh Life, you are so kind. Even if you had taken him from me, you are still so kind. Because you gave me the love of this dear sweet being, for as long as he wants to be with me, and for a million other reasons, as well.
Thank you Life, for this gift of seeing, and thank you Life,
for this greatest gift of LOVE.