As we go through our lives we are faced with many choices ~ from how we spend our time to the clothes to wear to what we eat. In my last post, I examined one motivation behind doing the right thing even when we don’t feel like it. Sometimes we do it simply because it’s important to other people.
Still, often the “right” thing gets obscured by what we WANT to do ~ the social obligation that gets upped by a better offer (think: prom date) or the need to stand up for someone who’s being unfairly criticized when it would be more comfortable to stay silent. We run up against these situations in big & small ways almost on a daily basis. In these moments, we tend to waiver. Faced with a difficult choice, we’ll wring our hands and vacillate: “I just don’t know what to do!”
Do we really not know what to do? Or, do we just not want to choose it?
In the best selling novel The Secret Life of Bees, 14 year-old Lily runs away from home and befriends three beekeeping sisters who live together. The oldest woman, August, serves as the wise matriarch and becomes a surrogate mother of sorts to Lily. One of the sisters, May, suffers from overwhelming depression ~ she feels other people’s pain on a profound level as if it’s happening to her. In this exchange, Lily (the story’s narrator) questions August about the very bold color of their home’s exterior.
“There’s one thing I don’t get,” I said.
“How come if your favorite color is blue, you painted your house so pink?”
She laughed. “That was May’s doing. She was with me the day I went to the paint store to pick out the color. I had a nice tan color in mind, but May latched on to this sample called Caribbean Pink. She said it made her feel like dancing a Spanish flamenco. I thought, ‘Well, this is the tackiest color I’ve ever seen, and we’ll have half the town talking about us, but if it can lift May’s heart like that, I guess she ought to live inside it.'”
“All this time I just figured you liked pink,” I said.
She laughed again. “You know, some things don’t matter that much, Lily. Like the color of a house. How big is that in the overall scheme of life? But lifting a person’s heart — now, that matters. The whole problem with people is –“
“They don’t know what matters and what doesn’t,” I said, filling in her sentence and feeling proud of myself for doing so.
“I was gonna say, The problem is they know what matters, but they don’t choose it. You know how hard that is, Lily? I love May, but it was still so hard to choose Caribbean Pink. The hardest thing on earth is choosing what matters.”
from The Secret Life of Bees
by Sue Monk Kidd
Do what’s right … CHOOSE what matters!