Which Side of the Street to Walk On


This schizophrenic weather is giving me new opportunities to adapt. Freeezing and snowing one day, nearly seventy degrees the next! I can't decide what to wear.

I recently discovered that the word "decide" means killing off all other options. It has the suffix "-cide" just like pesticide, homicide, suicide, and genocide. It's from the Latin word caedere, meaning "to kill."

 I have been contemplating the balance between options and directions. Deciding to wear one thing and not another means my options are gone. Moving in one direction creates momentum, but limits options. Keeping all your options open means you stay in one place, spinning and getting dizzy, perhaps. Eventually, we settle on one direction and reassess as we go. (I think it's called "layering.")

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Did you ever hear the story about Ajahn Chah, the Thai Forest monk (famous for teaching many of the Insight Meditation teachers such as Jack Kornfield and Sharon Salzberg) who told one of his Western students to "veer left, veer left!" when he was studying the Buddhist teachings. Then, he would tell another student, "veer right, veer right!"

Confused, they asked why he was giving contradictory instructions. He assured them that they were on a single path with one direction, but it was a wide path with ditches on either side and sometimes one of them would wander left and need to correct to the right, and sometimes one of them would wander right and need to correct to the left. Eventually, he said, you figure out that the path goes straight ahead.

Such is life.

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Check out Ajahn Chah's book, Food for the Heart.