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Arizona Rim Country Outdoors

The Best Possible Decision

By Paul D. Hanley

"The basest of all things is to be afraid." - William Faulkner.


4:00 pm, October 6, 2016.

I'd like to share the best decision I've ever made. The best decision I will ever make. The best decision I could ever make.

I made the decision at about nine o'clock yesterday morning. It turned out to be much easier than I had anticipated.

Because I've always known how important it was, I had built it up to earth-shaking proportions in my mind. After I made the decision, I wanted to take out a front-page ad in the New York Times to announce it.

And it wouldn't have been bragging. I acknowledge that the decision was as natural as the choice to sit down to a home cooked meal. And I acknowledge that the heavy lifting was done by a power I don't understand or control.

In my defense, it was a decision no power on earth could have forced me to make before I was ready. I had sensed the need to make the decision for a long time. But I just couldn't bring myself to do that.

A lot led up to that decision. Over forty years of feeling that existence, which God supposedly created, had abandoned and betrayed me. Four fifths of my life spent unable to fully trust anyone or anything, including myself. Or else blindly giving my trust to the undeserving in desperation.

Before I made the best choice of my life, I recalled the worst choice I had ever made: the fully conscious, aware, free will and determined choice, almost forty years before, to turn against the God I felt had abandoned and betrayed me on the most intimate, visceral, subatomic level.

I turned against the God I believed was responsible for the sexual abuse I had suffered since the age of ten. The God I blamed for the perpetual confusion and shame permeating my being.

Before I made the best choice I could ever make, I thought of how I had no idea whether the coffee I had sipped moments before would poison me. There was no way to really be sure.

There was no way to be absolutely certain of much of anything.

Before I made the best choice I could ever make, I thought of the appearances of this almost all-encompassing and unavoidable uncertainty: It appeared that a God so many people claimed was loving had created a world in which I don't control even my next heartbeat. A world I ultimately don't control at all, but feel the need to control in order to just survive, let alone prosper.

A world in which it is not possible to function without implicitly trusting in something.

This Higher Power, the universe, this uncontrollable and incomprehensible Beyond, whatever you want to call it, did give me the choice to trust in anything I choose: a slot machine, a woman, a political ideology, a statue of the Buddha ... myself.

But the universe did not give me the choice not to trust.

I realized that God was not asking me to trust. God was commanding me to trust. My only choice has ever been: What is it I place my faith in?

The game is rigged.

After a lifetime of trusting everything and everyone for all the wrong reasons, alternating with being afraid of trusting anyone or anything - after a lifetime of trying to trust my own puny powers and disappointing myself again and again - after a lifetime of feeling nothing was trustworthy, I made the best choice I could ever make.

The best choice I could ever make was to say in my heart, then write on paper, then say to the Divine Beyond,

"I trust God completely. No ifs, ands or buts.

"And I act accordingly."

I'm not sure of everything that means, but I know I mean it.

I know this, my best possible choice, implies I keep taking the next right step as I understand it; that I keep listening to the mysterious Beyond for guidance; that I keep taking the risk to act on what I hear from the this unseen Something Divine so that I