In her delightful book, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, Lori Gotlieb relays this encounter with her therapist:
“I’m reminded,” he begins, “of a famous cartoon. It’s of a prisoner, shaking the bars, desperately trying to get out–but to his right and left, it’s open, no bars.”
He pauses, allowing the image to sink in.
“All the prisoner has to do is walk around. But still, he frantically shakes the bars. That’s most of us. We feel completely stuck, trapped in our emotional cells, but there’s a way out–as long as we’re willing to see it.”
We cling to what we think is an agonizing choice between A and B and don’t even see choices C-Z. Sometimes we have the choice not to make a choice at all, to not be part of the conflict. Sometimes choices are knee-jerk reactions that maybe, if we had just paused, we will regret. Sometimes we need to step back and consider.
If only all of our choices could be made from a place of hope, seeing the best in ourselves and our neighbors, looking to build up rather than tear down, reaching for healing rather than harm.
What a wonderful world that would be.