There’s Only One Thing You Have to Do. The Rest You Choose To Do

by Ryan Glidden | December 5, 2017 11:53 pm

I came across a quote the other day in the Book, Chop Wood, Carry Water, by Joshua Medcalf. In a conversation between the main character (John) and his sensei, the sensei says to him, “John, there is only one thing you have to do in life, and that is die. You are always doing what you want to do because there is always a choice. You may not like the choices, or the consequences, but you always have a choice. ”

Tis the season of “have to do’s, ” in our minds. We have to travel to see family; we have to go to the holiday party, we have to make the meal or buy the gifts. The list goes on and on. But simply changing one word in your mind and it changes the feeling of everything. I want to travel to see family. I want to go to the holiday party, etc.

Hold on, you’re saying. I don’t want to actually. Ok, don’t! Of course, there are positive and negative consequences for all of our choices. That is the nature of the world. Every action creates a reaction. Regardless, what John’s sensei was trying to teach him is the power to choose is at the heart of it all, and it is an incredible power to possess.

Now is the time to take stock. What is working for you and what isn’t? Where are you headed in your career, relationships, friendships, and family? What choices need to be made? What outcomes do you think they will have? You have the power to make a change in your life right now, and every moment after right now until the day you die. Life is what you make it, or what you don’t.

Step one then is to choose. This is how we become empowered. Step two is to accept the outcomes of your choices. This is how we become free. Many of us stop at step one, but it is only through acceptance that we find peace.

For me, asana (yoga poses) is philosophy in form. When you step on your mat, you would be wise to move slowly and to pay attention to your breath. This gives you new insight into our body and mind and allows you to make a conscious choice. Where do I put my hand in relation to my foot? How do I make an adjustment to breathe with more ease in this twist? These are just a couple of examples. The first step is to actively engage in your power to choose how you show up on your mat.

After that, you have to release the results of your efforts. If you chase the results, you will never be satisfied. You will focus more on the failures and less on the victories. Instead, accept the responsibility you have to make a choice, put in your best effort and lay the rest at the feet of God.

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