If you speak to me these days about major life decisions (or even little life decisions really)- whether it’s something you need to decide, or you’d like to know my process, I will say this:
It’s not the decisions that matter so much as how you make the decisions.
A decision, that particular moment of choice, is fleeting. We don’t get to make exactly the same decision over and over, we don’t get to keep refining that particular choice. But we are always making decisions of some sort, so we can refine our decision-making process.
I used to make decisions based heavily on waiting for a loud ‘YES!’.
(The ‘YES!’ had to be loud so that I could hear it over all of the loud ‘NO’s.)
For a while, I loved the loud ‘YES!’ – It was like a smashing drum solo that stopped the dancing in its tracks, made my heart beat faster, pound louder, and was always immediately follow by a surge in energy, and even more frenzied dancing.
A few months ago, I realised it had been quite a while since I’d truly found a loud ‘YES!’.
It freaked me out a bit. Where was my passion? Where was my raging exuberance?! Where was my newly inspired frenzied dancing?! Was I done?! Was I destined for a life of flat-lining emotion?! (I jest. Kinda. When you’ve pegged even part of your identity on being the high energy, crazy passionate type, changes like this get you questioning.)
It was a bit uncomfortable for a little while – my previous way of decision making wasn’t working.
How else to make decisions?
I know this answer is going to sound obvious to some, but the living of it, the practise of it was quietly momentous for me.
How else to make decisions? What other way than to wait for the loud ‘YES!’?
Go the way of the quietest ‘No’.
Or, in other words, the way of least resistance.
As many intelligent thinkers are aware – The way of least resistance and most allowing are the same path.
And I am so down for the path of most allowing.
My loud ‘YES’s were not always the way of least resistance or most allowing. Sometimes my loud YES was a flood of excitement… With a side of terror. (Just one example- Booking a 1-way ticket to Germany on an almost maxed out credit card, with no savings, and no reliable plan.) They were emotional roller coasters that made me scream and squeal in shock and delight… But no one wants to live on a roller coaster. No one wants constant drum solos. (I say that with certainty, as a previous full time percussionist and band manager – No one wants constant drum solos. Nope.)
So a little while ago (and I mean really quite recently), I consciously changed the way I make decisions – in this season at least. In the absence of loud, screaming ‘YES!!!!’, I go the way of the quietest ‘No.’ Sometimes there’s no ‘No’ at all, sometimes there is a quiet, gentle ‘Yes.’ Sometimes there is even a little burst of a ‘Yes!’ – a flare on a snare perhaps! (‘Flare on a snare’! How ‘Cat in a Hat.’!) More symphony orchestra than punk rock. Less dragging my canoe up the side of the river and throwing it in at the rapids; more drifting easily down a wide, calm river.
Maybe I’ll get bored of the calm river one day, maybe I’ll crave some punk rock and a fierce, rip-me-open smashing drum solo! But this, this way of least resistance (and thus, most allowing) decision-making, is a new level of lived understanding for me. It guides me to appreciating absence as much as presence. It hones my awareness of my inner places so that I am more and more aware of the subtleties.
What most clearly distinguishes the beginner drummer from a master percussionist? The ability to express range, to constantly choose what dynamic to play with – to be just as present and captivating in simplicity and moments of soft beats or silence, as any else. Inner mastery, I’m coming.