Thirty-one years ago, among other reasons, I began practicing Buddhism to make better decisions. Actually, not just to make better ones but to decide period. I had no difficulty seeing alternatives but real difficulty choosing among them. Over the years I have become better at it but from time to time it still comes back to haunt me. Choosing a place to relocate to in retirement is no small decision–and it’s not mine alone. Nonetheless, my wife and I continued to evaluate one place after another, employing criteria meaningful to us. We have decided on Silver City, New Mexico for reasons not important to you or this post. The daily practice of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo assists in many things, including decisions like this. A determination, held in the heart and the head while engaged in the practice offers clarity–eventually. The subtlety lies in evaluating how far to go with analysis based on objective criteria and how much to rely on the subjective that Buddhist practice brings.
Having made that decision, I must now grapple with a decision on what my next book should be. Some time ago I thought it should be political satire. From time to time science fiction seems the right choice. Other times it’s an extension of Waiting for Westmoreland, the memoir I published last year. I had also thought before I would just do some short stories and articles until we are settled in a new house in a couple more years. The problem is, while I procrastinate, I put off writing any of them. Perhaps I could work on several of them alternately; that’s what my wife does successfully with her quilting projects. She suggests I should still have a priority among them. In other words, make a decision. She’s right of course. So that brings up another point about the reality of life and Buddhism–one has certain innate tendencies, both good and bad, that need to be taken into account and dealt with again and again. While progress may be made, a complete personality change is probably neither possible nor desireable. So I will let you know, within the next week, what that priority is.