Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Shoes and Other Mistakes: Tuesday's Reflection'

I bought these shoes impulsively. Did I need them? NO! In fact, I have a bag of shoes and other no longer wanted clothing in my closet, which I plan to take to Goodwill.

I didn't have an outfit in my mind when I bought these shoes, but I was attracted to the bright colors and just generally, to their fun look.

These shoes have sat in my closet unworn for a couple months now. I did think about wearing them recently and even put them on. I quickly took them off. They didn't fit right. They didn't look right. In fact, they looked like me ten years or so ago. 

These shoes were a mistake. 

Do you know the feeling? Have you ordered dessert at a restaurant when you are already more than full? Have you sat through a movie or continued reading a book when clearly you didn't like it? 

Have you painted a room and before the brushes were clean, you knew it was the wrong color or have you said to the hairdresser "I want it SHORT," and only when it was too late, did you realize her idea of "short" was not your idea of "short"? Well, it's only paint. It's only hair. 

Correctable mistakes. Just like my shoes. 

I won't waste time agonizing over these shoes, but I admit I do think occasionally about past mistakes I have made in my life. Bigger mistakes. Sins of commission. Sins of omission. 

Some of these mistakes require apologies or acknowledgements. Some of them may need a ritual in order to relegate them soundly to the past. Some of them may need further reflection. Why is it I can't let go of this? How has this mistake influenced my life? What can I learn from this mistake that will enhance my life now? 

I've learned that what plagues me is not the mistake itself, but the way I obsess about the mistake. Sometimes reflection turns into haunting or torment. 

Here's what Hugh Prather says in his The Little Book of Letting Go, a book I often recommend to my spiritual directees. 

             We all nurture and exercise our misery with 
             countless little thoughts throughout the day. Yet, 
             all we need is to be aware of how and when we
             do this, and the door to freedom swings open.

He recommends we adopt the following affirmation:

             I will practice noticing just this much today: I alone
             choose what ruins my attitude and complicates my
             life. I live with the decisions I make about everything
             and everyone around me. I move among these decisions.
             ... An overcast day is nothing more than an overcast day 
             until I decide what it withholds from me personally and
            pick what mood it must inflict...I see what I decide 
            and react as I choose.

Out with the shoes. 

An Invitation
What mistakes dominate your thinking and actions? What are you willing to do to let go of those mistakes? 


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