Wednesday, March 28, 2012

First Comes the Choice


Again, again, and again I am reminded that the first duty in life is to make a choice. Over the weekend and into the beginning of this week I have been worried about my relationship with my younger daughter. I get along just fine with my older daughter who is very much like her mother. Because of this, my daughter and I get along just fine and seem to understand each other on a level that doesn't need a lot of words. I have also been her soccer coach and usually I'm her driver to dance and then to Hebrew school on Wednesday nights. We've fallen into that pattern.

My younger daughter, Evelyn, is much, much more like me and, because of that, she has always been more involved with my wife than with me. Evelyn and I butt heads more often than not and, I'm sad to say, have begun to develop the habit of steering clear of one another. The sadness of that has crept up on me over the last few months and came to a head this past weekend and on into Monday. By Tuesday I was looking for ways to fix things.

As I have written before, I would very much like it if there were quicker fixes to things in life, but I haven't found that to be the case. Instead, problems seem intractable or long, long-term. In the face of that, I've been known to give up. Look no further than my recent post about trying to lose weight and get in better shape. I can see why weight-loss surgery is so appealing to people. It's a quick fix that gets done by someone else. Sounds good to me!

I knew that there wasn't a good surgery for Evelyn's and my relationship and there didn't seem to be anyone who could fix things for me. Instead, I figured I would have to make a long, hard slog of it and the chances of success were slim at best. Needless to say, I was discouraged by all of this.

Until I made a choice.

The choice wasn't to fix my relationship with Evelyn. That's too daunting and I don't know the tricks of it. Instead, I chose to be aware of Evelyn. It's not that I didn't notice her around the house. She's pretty loud and cute and tough to miss. I just decided to be aware of her in a real way.

I made the choice to be aware of her and pay attention to her for the day. That was Tuesday. Then I woke up on Wednesday and decided to do it again. And it has been simply wonderful.

By the way, choosing to be aware of Evelyn hasn't meant that I have had to divert attention away from her sister or my wife. I haven't even had to divert attention away from myself. It seems that there is plenty of this awareness to go around.

I might not be able to pull this off every day of the year or even every day of the week, but Tuesday and Wednesday I did it without breaking a sweat and it felt good. Surely, if I fall out of the habit for a day or two, I can go right back to it. Knowing that helps me feel sure that making the choice to be aware really is the solution to the problem long- and short-term. It's shocking to me that it's that simple. I suspect that there is much more to it and that I'm bound to run into some walls or fall down a few holes along the way, but maybe choosing to be aware will get me through that sort of thing too.

A few weeks ago I wrote that choosing to think, feel, and act like a writer resulted in me getting good writing done. I chose a writing awareness and, bam, I was writing. I wanted to be more aware of my daughter, more attentive to her, have a better relationship with her, so I chose to be aware of her and, bam again, I felt closer to her almost immediately. If I keep practicing this, maybe awareness is the way to find a new job, get healthy in body and spirit, and find ways to love myself and the moments of my day. It doesn't sound as crazy to me as it used to. The art of it might simply be to choose awareness and then follow that choice.

So far, so good. I'll just have to keep going with it. Just have to write on.