How The Wise Woman Taught The Power Of Choice

I found this post unpublished in the archives. I don’t believe it’s ever been read so I thought I’d pop it out now for people’s entertainment. It was probably written some time in 2015…

This is me staring at Los Perros glacier. To my horror, our Torres Del Paine trip involved an excess of early mornings.
February 2020.

When the Mother met the wise woman

Once upon a time, the Mother went to America to meet a very wise woman.

It was during the summer. There was no school, no rules and no food in the fridge. The Father was quite incapable of functioning without the Mother, not because he couldn’t look after himself – he can. But he didn’t seem to be able to do anything. He walked around the house, went to work, came home and walked around the house some more.

It didn’t matter. We bought some food, filled the fridge and cooked dinner for the Father. The Mother was busy doing something else, something very important.

She was listening to the wise woman, and learning about choice.

The Mother returned. The Father stopped pacing around the house.

And like the kitchen had taken on a different look, so had the Mother.

Because the wise woman had taught the Mother a tremendous skill. A skill so simple that it’s often over looked.

She taught my Mother to choose.

The difference between goals and choices

When you make a choice, you’re acknowledging the alternative.

If I chose to travel, I am letting go of a lot of security.

If I chose not to travel, what is the price I’m paying?

This is what I see as the big problem with goals. When we write up goals we’re articulating our dreams, not what we’re willing to lose, and it’s loss not gain that we feel more strongly. Inevitably, the loss is what makes achieving our goals so hard. It’s the time that has to be committed, the strain in our legs after a long run, and the bitter cold on our skin before. The loss of options, the loss of comfort.

How choice changed the Mother

The Mother has embedded in her children a sense of awe. However hard we try, we are simply not the sort of girls who can have two loads of washing on the line and dinner cooked before 7am. If either of us open our eyes before 7am, we’re ahead of schedule.*

The Mother is like a whirlwind. As children we would have to run to keep up as she walked down the street.

She’s like a humming bird, whilst I’m more like a tree. Or at least in my eyes. The Midget accuses me of doing to much. The father accuses me of allowing myself to burnout, again.

When the Mother returned from visiting the wise-woman, she brought back with her the simple fact that her exhaustion and inability to sleep was her choice. Just like my ulcers, stressed skin and headaches are my choice. When we keep pushing ourselves the cracks are going to appear.

When we set goals we have to acknowledge the cracks. When we keep pushing despite the clawing tension in our backs, the aches in our shoulders the strain in our fingers from hitting this keyboard time and time again, the cracks widen.

So when the Mother returned from the wise-woman, she slowed a little and started thinking a little more about the consequences of doing everything.

Which is why the wise-woman, who I’ve never met, is my hero.

*Actually, my sister seems to be more than capable of such ludicrous behaviour.