I am leaving for California on Thursday to visit friends and take some time at the ocean and in the redwoods. One of my friends contacted me to tell me the Dalai Lama would be in San Francisco and asked if I would have any interest in going with her. I replied affirmatively and shortly got an e-mail saying that most events were sold out but she had bought two tickets for a public event that was taking place the morning of my departure. At first I noticed a hesitation because that meant changing my plans somewhat but I decided that after she had actually purchased tickets the least I could do was be flexible.
However as the day progressed I observed some significant anxiety emerge. It seemed to complicate my life; I would have to drive from San Jose to Stanford on my own; it would delay my departure by at least four hours; I would then have to drive through the heart of the city, across the Golden Gates Bridge and I still had a thousand miles to get back home. At first a voice emerged that said, “get over it, you are an adult aren’t you, what’s the big deal?” Then came the realization that I was stuck in the middle of the battleground of thoughts, feelings and fears that I talk about in my Decision-making presentation. It seemed a good time to apply some of my own tools to work to develop some clarity about what to do.
My plans had to be leave my friend’s place in San Jose bright and early Thursday morning and drive to Prairie Creek State Park that day and camp – a journey of over 550 km. So the Dalai Lama tickets threw a spoke in that. My commitment is to live a soul directed life guided by synchronicity and serendipity however just what was my soul’s desire? To see the Dalai Lama with a friend seemed like soul food but then why the anxiety and trepidation about changing my plans. I sat down and wrote out my confusion, looking at the pros and cons and the conflicting thoughts, feelings and fears and then asked for soul direction. I knew that if this were indeed my soul’s desire then all would be well.
My first inclination when faced with uncertainty like this is to draw a rune seeking clarity. I drew Defense, normally a sure fire “NO”. I read the commentary and it seemed profoundly relevant, “aversion to conduct that creates stress – patience is the counsel. The ability to foresee consequences before you act is the mark of the profound person. Avert anticipated difficulties through right action.” I decided to follow the path of patience and sleep on it. The following morning I journaled and drew a second rune -Gateway, about non-action and not being ready to go through the gate. Once again patience seemed to be the recommendation. Later that day I did my DecisionClarity presentation at Inspire Health and realized that this was a perfect opportunity to spend a further 24-hours seeking guidance.
Sharing my dilemma with a friend of mine helped me; he suggested that it would be challenging to stay fully present with the angst of having to leave for a seven hour drive afterwards and he suggested that the Dalai Lama was unlikely to expand my awareness although it may be pleasant to be in his proximity. In addition I realized that I had passed over a number of opportunities to see him in Vancouver and as a regular visitor here it was likely there would be others. The desire to go seemed more about a sense of obligation to my friend rather than any compelling need to see the Dalai Lama. I decided to sleep on it for one more night then make my final decision. My practice to conclude the DecisionClarity process is to create a contemplative space then hold the question in my mind before releasing it and taking five deep breaths. I had an overwhelming sense that I should not go accompanied by a wave of relief. It was as though a weight had been lifted. Shortly afterwards after I shared my decision with my friend she e-mailed to say the ticket had been snapped up. It felt very affirming and I know there will be other less stressful opportunities to see the Dalai Lama.
Post Script: I realized later there was not a good decision or a bad one; one would have required the practice of staying fully present to an experience when I was bombarded by distractions; the other perhaps was better for my peace of mind. The decision was much more about he journey than the outcome.