How Do You Know When You Have Made the Right Choice?
Making choices is not always easy. Sometimes the line between what is right and wrong is so fine that it’s hard to make a decision. Sometimes there are no simple or right answers to complex questions. Sometimes our heart is torn between what we think we “should be doing” and what we feel we “want to do”.
I’m sure that you have faced these choices on more than one occasion. Maybe you’ve made mistakes. And maybe you felt incredible lightness after you made the decision.
This post is about choices that we make that define us. It was inspired by a four-page heartfelt letter that a young singer Fiona Apple posted on her Facebook page. I’ve never heard Fiona’s songs before, but this letter has touched my soul.
It talks about her decision to postpone her tour in South America so that she could nurse her dying pitbull through its final days. When my friend first sent me a link to this letter, I almost did not open it. I did not feel like reading about a singer I didn’t know and her dying dog.
It sounded almost like yet another story from the magazine covers that I scan every time I stand in line at the supermarket. You know, the ones that talk about celebrities’ divorces, arrests and pregnancies.
But I was wrong. This letter is one of the most profound, honest and incredibly inspiring pieces that I have read in a long time.
Read it. It gives plenty of food for thought. It is more than a just letter about a dying dog. It’s about life, love, friendship, death, acceptance and choices.
“It’s 6pm on Friday, and I’m writing to a few thousand friends I have not met yet. I am writing to ask them to change our plans and meet a little while later. Here’s the thing. I have a dog Janet, and she’s been ill for almost two years now, as a tumor has been idling in her chest, growing ever so slowly. She’s almost 14 years old now. I got her when she was 4 months old. I was 21 then, an adult officially – and she was my child.
She is a pitbull, and was found in Echo Park, with a rope around her neck, and bites all over her ears and face. She was the one the dog fighters use to puff up the confidence of the contenders. She’s almost 14 and I’ve never seen her start a fight, or bite, or even growl, so I can understand why they chose her for that awful role. She’s a pacifist.
Janet has been the most consistent relationship of my adult life, and that is just a fact.
We’ve lived in numerous houses, and jumped a few make shift families, but it’s always really been the two of us. She slept in bed with me, her head on the pillow, and she accepted my hysterical, tearful face into her chest, with her paws around me, every time I was heartbroken, or spirit-broken, or just lost, and as years went by, she let me take the role of her child, as I fell asleep, with her chin resting above my head. She was under the piano when I wrote songs, barked any time I tried to record anything, and she was in the studio with me all the time we recorded the last album…
She’s my best friend and my mother and my daughter, my benefactor, and she’s the one who taught me what love is.
I can’t come to South America. Not now. When I got back from the last leg of the US tour, there was a big, big difference. She doesn’t even want to go for walks anymore.
I know that she’s not sad about aging or dying. Animals have a survival instinct, but a sense of mortality and vanity, they do not. That’s why they are so much more present than people. But I know that she is coming close to point where she will stop being a dog, and instead, be part of everything. She’ll be in the wind, and in the soil, and the snow, and in me, wherever I go. I just can’t leave her now, please understand. If I go away again, I’m afraid she’ll die and I won’t have the honor of singing her to sleep, of escorting her out.
Sometimes it takes me 20 minutes to pick which socks to wear to bed. But this decision is instant. These are the choices we make, which define us. I will not be the woman who puts her career ahead of love and friendship. I am the woman who stays home and bakes Tilapia for my dearest, oldest friend. And helps her be comfortable, and comforted, and safe, and important.
Many of us these days, we dread the death of a loved one. It is the ugly truth of Life, that keeps us feeling terrified and alone. I wish we could also appreciate the time that lies right beside the end of time. I know that I will feel the most overwhelming knowledge of her, and of her life and of my love for her, in the last moments. I need to do my damnedest to be there for that. Because it will be the most beautiful, the most intense, the most enriching experience of life I’ve ever known. When she dies. So I am staying home, and I am listening to her snore and wheeze, and reveling in the swampiest, most awful breath that ever emanated from an angel.
And I am asking for your blessing.
What are your thoughts?
How do you know when you have made the right choice?
Take time to share your thoughts in the comment section below!