On decisions, distractions and ‘What’s new?’

I call them life decisions but at first they are often distractions, pretty, shiny fodder for my next, “What’s new with you?” encounter. Taking Arabic, running the half-marathon, going vegetarian, returning to the tennis court: They all started as distractions from something and somehow morphed into interests, even habits. I’ve been reflecting lately on the progression from disappointment to distraction to finally, the natural healing that yields both a new passion and a form of release.

Earlier this month, I felt deep disappointment over something that didn’t work out as I had hoped it would, felled by incongruent goals and expectations. Then, it was a health scare. All the while, I have been conscious of my inevitable attempt at healing disguised as a cool, new goal.

But this time, rather than throwing myself wholeheartedly into something I can tell all my friends about, I’m running because it’s therapeutic. I’m eating vegetarian because it’s helps the environment. I’m practicing Arabic because I want my vocabulary to be better than that of a well-spoken 2-year-old. I’m playing tennis again because it’s a lifelong sport that taught me discipline as a teenager. I’m writing about distraction rather than indulging it.

Maybe I am entering into an era in which distraction and decision are independent, one in which I’m aware of my motivations and am careful to balance busying my mind and working toward something new.

Writing is both a distraction and a decision for me, as it encompasses every stage of the healing process. It reminds me that healing doesn’t exist in a new goal but what I allow that goal to become.

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