In my book, my heroine Ayisha's choices deeply affected her fate. The priestess warned her that "every experience is conditional ... choices must always be made first." And her friend Nadiru told her that "with walls all around you, you still have far more freedom than you think you do." Yet Ayisha still understood so little about what profound impact her choices were to have on her life. She ignored the incredible power awakening inside her and chose instead to lash out with a vengeance toward all those who had wronged her—letting her own hatred destroy her.
Now take a deeper, more impactful example, this one right out of our "real life" history books. Nelson Mandela was an angry, anti-apartheid radical when he became one of eight African National Congress (ANC) activists who were convicted and sent to prison in 1964 for sabotage against the all-white South African government. However, after that same government kept Mandela locked behind bars long after the ban against the ANC had been rescinded and the other seven men released, it seemed to the outside world that he had earned the right to seek retribution against his government.Yet when he finally emerged a free man in 1990 after 27 years imprisoned, he held nothing but compassion and forgiveness in his heart for his oppressors. He was filled with the kind of inner strength and peace that only comes from knowing one's true source of power.
He rolled up his sleeves with then-President FW de Klerk, and in 1993 they jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating the end to apartheid. Together, the two men brought peace to a racially divided country. In 1994, when Mandela was inaugurated as South Africa's first democratically elected president, he sent VIP invitations to his former prison warders to attend the event as his personal guests. He held no animosity toward them. After he stepped down as president one year later, as promised, he continued leading the fight for human rights around the world.
Nelson Mandela, or "Madiba" as he preferred to be called, died peacefully at home in 2013—but the legacy he created lives on today. http//www.nelsonmandela.org.
So my mantra reminds me daily that I can either let my chaotic ego, with its belief in fear, separateness, hatred and vengeance, reign supreme in my decision-making process—or I can reject "Mr. Toad's" wild ride and place my trust instead in the much wiser guidance of that still, small voice within me. It's a simple choice—with profound consequences, since virtually all my thoughts and experiences are guaranteed to be quite different depending on which method I use.
What about you? Do you live your life from the outside-in, always reacting defensively or aggressively to everything and everyone around you? Or does your source of power come from the inside-out?
"Every experience is conditional, my child," the priestess cautioned Ayisha. "Choices must always be made first."