Pam says I get a tone. And she’s right. It’s when I get preachy.
A long time ago, in a lifetime far away, I used to preach for a living. There were a million things I could have done with my life, and I set my sights on becoming a Methodist minister.
I don’t regret any of the thousand choices I’ve made, at least in the sense of damning myself for them. Knowing what I know now, being who I am now, I realize I wouldn’t have made those choices. I don’t get a rewind button. I have right-now life.
I can look at life like I’m holding a remote, a passive viewer clicking through streaming services to decide on which of a million entertainments I can watch. Yet, taking life as an observer may have been the reason I decided out of a million things that I needed to be a pastor in a Christian denomination.
We don’t decide Netflix’ menu. They decide it for us. It’s like the radio playlists of the ‘80s: yeah, we had the freedom to flip the dial to another station, but the industry was deciding what got heaviest rotation on any station. So, the industry of living in the capitalist West decided which circles I’d live in.
Maybe it’s just a process of growing older and hopefully wiser that I write this. I’m not damning myself for rotating myself into a frenzy and making life decisions that I clung to with a death grip even long after they revealed themselves as not the best in a million (or even dozen) things I could do. Maybe I’m doing it again. I don’t think so, though.
You see, we don’t decide. We live. And how we live, what we open ourselves to, where we put our flower pots so they can catch rain and sun, does the deciding.
So when I see legislatures deciding that of a million things they can do, they should harass trans people; when I see Hamas slaughter people like it’s what they have to do out of a million things they could’ve done; when a preacher decides that of all the things they could preach this Sunday it should be about who’s going to hell because of what they do with their genitals with another consenting adult—well, I no longer judge the preachers.
I don’t agree with them. I grieve the decisions made and wonder about the human choice-maker that’s inside me every bit as it’s inside them. And I feel in my heart that I’m frail and that this life is precious. And that I have f*cked up, am probably right now f*cking up, and will f*ck up. Some of that decision making process is out of my control because I’m shaped by culture and inner fears and desires I haven’t admitted to myself.
I start again. With myself. With this magik called life. I give it another go. The dead are right now burying their own dead. I might help them and do more than preach or worry or bemoan our existence. I might even decide that, out of a million things I could do, it’s right now time to stop writing a post and instead not decide to do anything. But to instead be still and see. Feel. Listen.
Myself. And all us decision-makers. The million things I could do are all really one thing. Before I do anything else, I’m gonna let life happen to me.
To see what happens when I don’t feel called to do anything but be me to the next soul I meet.