Weighing consequences, not weighing down heart
December 5, 2014
We want to be protected. It seems to be the modern day curse that most human beings seek protection before seeking emotions, experience with their procession of joys and wonders but also heartaches and injuries. The modern man/woman wants to know where he/she is going, whether the journey will be arduous and whether the rewards will be plentiful or painfully desolate. Each decision to enter an unknown field of emotions and experiences is examined carefully before even reaching the field of probabilities and the expected consequences are weighed minutely before the decision is taken.
The protection we seek encompasses a range of fields in our life going from the mere education system to our profession, to our interaction with friends and family and finally to our intimate relationships with our partners. When speaking of partners, I use the plural because it has now become an accepted fact that we seldom can live all our lives with one partner, to the exception of those who have been able to find their perfect soul mate right from the beginning. As we evolve in life and depending on the congruence between our evolution and that of our partner, it may or may not be possible to continue a common life with that partner without a feeling of frustration or other forms of constraint leading ultimately to a separation and therefore to a new partner.
For every matter in our life, we don’t want to be wrong, we don’t want to be hurt, we don’t want to suffer. It has therefore become almost a second nature – except for some rare persons whom society sees as misfits because they simply follow recklessly their hearts – for most of us to weigh all consequences in the most dispassionate way possible before making a decision. Society channels us into this behaviour by reproaching us our mistakes when we have not weighed consequences enough before taking a decision. The young child who chooses the wrong orientation at school because he/she likes some subjects more than others is scolded by his/her parents and teachers if he/she lacks the full natural skills to continue doing what his/her inclination pushed him/her to choose. The young or adult person who chooses friends who cause him/her hurt in whatever way is reproached for the lack of judgement and weighing of consequences in choosing such people within his/her circle of friends. The young adult who chose a partner who caused him/her suffering is to an extent pitied, comforted but mostly silently, implicitly or sometimes even overtly rebuked for making such an uninformed choice and not weighing all consequences. The professional who chooses a path that he/she feels more rewarding but that leads at some point into financial trouble is reproached his/her unwise and non-weighted choice. It is thus no wonder that at each point in one’s life, one would have developed a tendency to weigh absolutely all the consequences of taking a certain decision to the extent that for some it becomes an obsession and they are not even able to take the simplest of decisions without weighing the pros and cons.
While such a process may be right in its generic approach to most matters to avoid the drunken aftermath of a wayward decision taken with no regard for its consequences on oneself and on the larger sphere of one’s dependents, it can somewhat cause one to have a stilted life if it were adopted for each and every matter in life. Imagine a world where you would have a few seconds to hold on to a longer talk with a person you find interesting and you would need a few minutes to process the consequences of talking longer to an acquaintance, you simply would have “missed the train”.
It would seem rather obvious that professional matters should be the ones where a person would need to be more diligent in weighing consequences but somehow more and more people have shifted their focus from the professional sphere which has become more of an alimentary choice to the personal sphere where they have developed a new tendency of a heightened examination of the consequences of their choice.
Social media has to an extent rendered possible a quicker weighing of consequences as far as relationships are concerned but in a more artificial and superficial way than what would be required. Like in a real-life scenario, played out usually at high speed compared to the original, people are able to measure the consequences of their interaction and the effect it has socially. The unfortunate part of this is that because of its superficiality and the ability of people to hide behind the mask that is presented on the chosen social media, the relationship is actually a fake acting out of what it would have been like in real life. At the same time, when both parties are honest and truthful about themselves, there is a possibility of actually interacting on a deeper level of understanding and therefore weighing appropriately the consequences of a life together before it actually takes place.
It increasingly happens that when both have been truthful and not hidden anything about themselves those who have met through social media are then able to have a real-life relationship that is rather quickly more intimate than one which would have started off as a face-to-face relationship. Conversely, some relationships which are face-to-face relationships often take a long time to establish this level of deeper understanding.
My belief is that this difference in the pace between relationships that initiate over social media and those that initiate in real-life is the matter of weighing consequences. Social media with its virtual feel allows one not to feel weighed down by consequences and therefore, where a sincere intent exists, allows a deeper interaction. Real life, on the other hand, is burdened by the grave weighing of consequences that is inherent in an individual because of the self-preservation instinct and therefore each individual takes more time to reveal truths about themselves including their feelings. Suffice to look at how easily people get “in a relationship”, “engaged” or “in a domestic partnership” on facebook; something that they would consider for months or even years before doing so in real life.
So, having said this, should one rush headlong into decisions or should one take proper time to weigh the consequences of such decisions before taking them? Without being a fervent adept of making rash decisions, I believe it is important to leave one’s heart in a permanent state of acceptance that would allow one to experience emotions and events first hand while at the same time being able, for more important and life-changing decisions, especially insofar as they involve other human beings, to be able to weigh the consequences of such decisions before taking them.
Personally, I think that it should not be an issue for a child to make a mistake and take a wrong education orientation (compared to his natural skills) if that is what the child felt would suit him/her best at a given point in time like it should not be an issue for a young adult to choose the wrong partner or the wrong friends. For both of them, making a mistake is part of their learning curve and even if there is some hurt involved in the realisation that the choice was not the best adapted for the future, there is definitely a larger benefit from that choice in defining better what is the better adapted choice for a long-term view of the future.
As far as a professional life is considered, I personally think it is good to try as many professions as one is able to actually withstand sensibly as long as the livelihood of other people does not depend on making the “right” choice. If one has already made the decision to have dependents that one has to fend for, then the appropriate weighing of consequences for the choice of a profession has to be made.
As regards relationships, the only time I think one should really weigh the consequences is again when one has dependents who might suffer from an incorrect choice. To want to weigh consequences when only one’s own suffering is involved is illusory as one can never avoid fully pain in one’s life. Besides, it is becoming more and more apparent in social interactions that the more people tend to want to weigh consequences before making decisions in their personal relationships, the less in touch they are with their inner feelings.
Halting the natural process of reaching out, putting a stop to one’s heart’s momentum eventually leads to a weighing down of the heart and therefore to the disappearance of the sense of wellbeing that goes with a heart that is open, light, enlightened and full of love. So before heeding the reproachful comments or advice of a “well-wishing” friend asking you to “open your eyes”, rather listen to that inner voice that asks you to “open your heart” for it does not matter that you will get hurt along the road in the process of opening your heart. What matters is that you will grow and evolve tremendously every time you are able to open your heart and keep it open regardless of the number of times that you might have got hurt.
Eventually, there comes a time when each experience will stand out as a unique array of emotions and step of personal growth without any sense of hurt associated with that experience. Ultimately, there comes a time when your heart is truly and fully open when nothing hurts you any longer and you only feel a deep sensation of all-encompassing love and satisfaction with your life, whatever the choices you make. As Rumi said “Brother, stand the pain. Escape the poison of your judges. The sky will bow to your beauty, if you do.” and I will leave you with a beautiful poem by Rumi (in ‘We Are Three‘, Mathnawi VI, 831-845)
“These spiritual window-shoppers, who idly ask, ‘How much is that?’ Oh, I’m just looking. They handle a hundred items and put them down, shadows with no capital.
What is spent is love and two eyes wet with weeping. But these walk into a shop, and their whole lives pass suddenly in that moment, in that shop.
Where did you go? “Nowhere.” What did you have to eat? “Nothing much.”
Even if you don’t know what you want, buy something, to be part of the exchanging flow.
Start a huge, foolish project, like Noah.
It makes absolutely no difference what people think of you.”