How to make any decision

I’m at loose ends. Again. Or still—I can’t tell if it comes and goes or is more of a perpetual state.

This week I thought about applying for a job. Or rather, I met with someone who had an open full-time position for which I am highly qualified. I spoke with her about the responsibilities, the possibilities, the vision. What were they hoping to accomplish? How?

I didn’t know what to do. The job would have me working with a bunch of smart people who care about issues I care about. Working to shift global systems. For instance, if one of the most important ways humanity can address climate change is to make sure that no more primary forests are cut down, this position would work with governments in developed and developing countries, major businesses (like huge oil companies), other NGOs, movie stars, world renowned academics, politicians (you get the picture), to figure out how can this happen? And then work with all the partners to get it to happen (and then throw a major party if it ever did happen).

I drove home. What am I going to do? I think keeping primary forests standing is super important. I love forests. They smell GREAT. I am scared about climate change. I am not a fan of multiple, massive hurricanes, I (in theory though I have never been scuba diving) love coral. I would rather there continue to be massive glaciers and ice sheets than the converse.

This is an issue I care about. This is a job I can do. People have to go to war sometimes and it isn’t like they want to go, but they have to because the times call for it.

Wait, what?

I said, people have to go to war sometimes….

You can’t just fancy about, doing things that bring you joy. Sometimes you have to go sit in work clothes, spend hours, years, in very cold meeting rooms, sending lots of important emails, flying in airplanes to more meetings, writing reports, playing politics. Sometimes you have to do these things to make change. To save the world.

So, like I said, I drove home. How am I going to make this decision? I care about the world. I want to help. I sat down at the piano. I played some very elementary pieces, slowly, quietly. I felt the keys with my fingers. I heard two notes, or three notes, blending. My feet gently kept the rhythm.

I turned on some show tunes (Barbra Streisand “On a Clear Day” to be precise). I belted out some Barbra—about four songs worth. I haven’t done that in about six months. I pretended I was on stage performing.

I meditated. A tool I did not have in my toolbox before beginning Basic Training. I did a fifteen-minute Deepak Chopra guided meditation on intention that I found on YouTube. At the end he said: I place my intention in the vast ocean of possibility and allow the universe to work through me. He said it three times, so I remembered it, and wrote it down afterwards.

And I knew this job was not for me.

I have been thinking about my 11th grade history teacher. She subscribes to this blog, which is both an honor and a source of some anxiety. What will she think? Will she approve? Since you probably don’t know my father’s middle name, I will go ahead and let you in on the secret that she is the answer to the frequently asked security question: Name of your favorite teacher. Though I can never remember whether I put in just the last name or the full name—I try to be consistent with capitalization but I’m never totally sure.

I have been thinking about her because I have been thinking about impact. About one lifetime and choices we make. About the scale of what we try to do.

I was brushing my teeth earlier this week and I was thinking about wanting to say thank you. I don’t know if she changed my life. I do know this: She taught me how to really work (academically, that is). She expected me to work. If this is easy, then keep working until you find what is not easy. I think, of all the teachers I was blessed to have, she taught me to examine, to think, to organize thought (she and Chauncey Loomis). She was the best writing teacher I ever had. And she loved me.

She was tough. And she loved me.

One teacher in one school in one town in one country teaching one subject. Thirty years later I am brushing my teeth and sending a silent thank you to the universe for her effort, her attention, her devotion, her love. For the difference she made in one life. For the love that she poured into one small, open heart.

She did not sit around with heads of state talking about forests. She came and watched me sing Barbra Streisand in the Samford University auditorium when I competed in the Junior Miss Pageant. She laughed when we gave her a box of Depends Undergarments as a 40th birthday present. She reads my blog.

I am glad that there are people who ask big questions and who sit in meeting rooms together trying to figure out how to move the big levers to take care of our beautiful world. I send prayers out to the universe for their success. I edit their (copious) documents and reports sometimes. It is a small thing, but it is a thing.

I will keep writing. And singing. And editing. And selling cosmetics. I will plant flowers for my butterflies and birds. I will post smoothie recipes on my blog. I will make up games and missions for myself and my friends.

And I will gently and carefully put my intention in the vast ocean of possibility and allow the universe to work through me.

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