Decisions on the L Train

A couple of weeks ago, I (somewhat impulsively and in the spirit of ‘just doing’) bought a ticket to visit a friend in New York. The days leading up to the trip, I’d been in a reflective state. There were a couple of decisions that I knew that I needed to make and one of those decisions carried the type of weight that you know has the potential to take you down a completely different road, one that I knew I most likely did not want to take . The decision pinned curiosity, perhaps even desire, against rationality.

Coincidentally enough, I’d picked up a book on how we make decisions. The argument is an old philosophical one: do emotional or rational based decisions make for the better outcome? René Descartes moved the lauding of reason along by asserting that all individuals are equipped with an equal amount of reason and the differentiation between humans is how they apply this reason.  By the time Freud came along, Plato’s claim that emotions conflict with reasoning was rehashed through the ego and id. Decisions driven by emotions were not the the ideal, and sometimes even served as a prompt for a diagnosis of neurosis. Though today there is research and academics who advocate that emotions are needed to make decisions that protect the self, it is still a conflict humans face on a micro level, i.e. in every day life. This was the challenge I was contemplating as I rode the train into Manhattan to attend a lecture.

Daniel Odier was visiting and conducting a workshop on tantra meditation. The lecture, which was focused on awareness, addressed a variety of themes worth discussing, but when the topic of desire was introduced I felt spoken to. Odier was stating words that I already knew and embraced, but the reminder at that specific point in time was needed. The focus of desire is the wanted outcome. If that outcome does not occur, then we suffer. We become so attached to the possibility of the outcome that we ignore the bliss that is the feeling of that desire. Placing the focus on the feeling of the desire, of the ability to feel that energy, is the true pleasure. If there is awareness of this, if we can align with this vibration, then this awareness turns into complete fulfillment. The outcome of that desire sits on the bench, while the play of this awareness takes center stage.

Though desire does not fall under the category of emotion, I knew that the curiosity I was feeling stemmed from an emotional place. Descartes turned away from books and looked to travel in his discovery to knowledge, but it wasn’t until he looked internally that he felt that his efforts had produced valuable knowledge that he felt compelled to share. As I rode the L train on my way to the airport a couple of days later, I was high on the freedom of making decisions that honored both reason and irrational emotions.

Intellectualizing happenings in life only get you so far; the rest of the path you have to work your way through the emotions. Balance.

I promise New York was not as dry as this…it was light, loving, and just plain ole’ fun.

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