I am sipping my coffee and thinking about sweaters. Well, actually, I am thinking about a particular sweater I like very much that just doesn’t go with the rest of what I am wearing at all, and immediately after finding myself wishfully thinking it would be nice to have this particular sweater in a number of other colors, I realized all I’d have to do to have that is learn to knit or crochet and get to work on it. That’s not my most likely choice in this instance, but it got me thinking about life’s vast menu of possible choices, and how little of that vast unlimited potential I actually consider day-to-day, myself.

When I dine out, I expect generally I will be choosing my meal from a menu – the restaurant prepares the menu, and it is the nature of menus to limit the choices presented. It is a system that works out pretty well. They tell me what they offer, and I choose from that list. If I don’t like the choices, I can go eat elsewhere and choose from their menu.

When I go grocery shopping, I may not have a menu, but I will nonetheless choose from the limited selection the grocery store offers me, and if I need or want things they do not supply, I can take my shopping elsewhere, and choose from the products offered by some other merchant.

When I attend classes, I choose from a list of available courses. It is clearly not a complete list of all possible knowledge I could choose to study.

Simple or fancy, the menu is a limited list.

Simple or fancy, the menu is a limited list.

Choices seem to generally work in the observed fashion; we are presented with some limited selection and we choose from that, or go elsewhere in search of something we want that is not offered there. I don’t often stop to think about the implied limiting factor: whatever is on the menu, or on the shop shelves, it is but a small sample of ‘all the possible foods’ or ‘all the things to buy’. Life is like that, too, only… I’m the person I generally find to be responsible for limiting my own choices; I am writing the menu, myself.

That sweater isn’t going to knit itself – and, by the way, I’m not likely to be the one knitting it either. I don’t know how to knit. I could choose to learn…if I chose to… Learning to knit doesn’t seem to appear on ‘my menu’ of things to do in life. I could make excuses about being thumb-fingered, or having tried before, or any number of lame reasons why I don’t choose to learn to knit, although I really love sweaters and could learn to make my own. On the other hand, when I first began playing around with watercolors on paper, painting wasn’t just ‘on my menu’ – it was akin to ‘the special of the day’ in that moment in my life; I chose it before I could consider choosing it, and it is a natural part of me. Who wrote the menu? This internal list of what my options are in life – where did it come from? Who maintains it? When I feel as though I ‘have no other choice’ that isn’t likely to be the literal truth of it – and even recognizing this is often not enough to immediately open my eyes to the impossibly unimaginably vast potential array of choices truly in front of me.

Be love.

Be love.

The year is ending, and it is a season of contemplation and of questions for me. Where now? This has been a remarkable year for change, for growth, for love to blossom as though new – and I have so many choices possible in the year to come…but…what are they? Am I open to all of them, and equipped to choose what will tend to support my needs most over time? Will I choose to be a better human being than I was yesterday? Have I limited my menu too much by rejecting very promising opportunities, projects, or adventures because I don’t see myself as that person – or because I think I ‘can’t’ or ‘shouldn’t’?

It’s funny – when I was a kid there was a lot of push to send the message to children that they could do or be ‘anything’ they might wish to do or be. It’s even sort of true. Then there was a swing in the other direction, to refrain from encouraging children in an unrealistic way, and more in favor of being ‘practical’ and ‘real’ with children about their potential and abilities and and to avoid ‘setting them up for failure’ with overly high expectations. That’s even sort of sensible. Both approaches touch on real things; it is rare that we really understand the vastness of our potential, and we are able to overcome so much to achieve what we desire! On the other hand – there are obstacles in life, verbs involved, and some things may not be so simply done. I hesitate to say ‘impossible’ about any particular human achievement, myself: moon landing, space shuttle, space station, solar power, tunnel bridges, The Beatles, eggs fertilized outside of wombs, women on the Supreme Court, the internet, Google, Microsoft, Tesla, and all within my lifetime! How many of these things seemed impossible at some earlier point? So, when a little girl wants to be president – why not? On the other hand, it sure isn’t going to be easy to get there – and success won’t be a given.

Even Santa has a list...

Even Santa has a list…

I am sipping my coffee in the glow of holiday lights, and listening to the heater click and pop as it begins to take the morning chill off the room. I am wondering if I might like to learn to knit, although I had once attempted it without much success perhaps I have changed? I smile, and let other choices and options I might not generally consider drift past my awareness: encaustic? through-hiking? remote travel? exotic cuisine? a martial art? disc-golf? a musical instrument? another language? a silent retreat? a cruise? As I list options something strange happens just at the edge of my awareness and I pause to consider it; the longer I go on, the more similar to things I already do, or have done, or are very like my existing interests each thing becomes – I have to almost fight myself to allow experiences or events significantly outside my norm to reach my awareness and hold my attention for a moment. That’s something to consider further.

I choose even my perspective; I am my own cartographer on this journey.

I am able to choose even my perspective when I am aware that choice exists.

If I am writing the menu for myself, then even the choices regarding how I filter or limit my choices is mine to choose. What will I choose today? What will I choose tomorrow? What matters most – what I choose, or that I choose? Today is a good day to consider ‘all the options’ – and what that means, and how I am limiting myself in life by limiting my choices. Today is a good day to update the menu.