The other night I had the good fortune of going with some girlfriends to listen to a live interview with Elizabeth Gilbert in west London. I was impressed by her ease and wit and her natural ability to engage her audience.
Elizabeth has become very famous after her autobiographical account of a year traveling in Italy (Eat), India (Pray) and Bali (Love) became a massive best seller. The movie is about to be released in London, starring Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem.
Elizabeth recounted many stories from her life growing up on a farm, surrounded by what she termed “a very eccentric family of story-tellers”. There was one story that struck me in particular – in fact it was more a piece of advice that she was given by her mother when she was about 15 years old.
Many years earlier, her mother had been working as a counsellor to women who were making the decision as to whether to have an abortion or not. When Elizabeth asked what she would say to these women, her mother replied, “I told them I could not make the decision for them and that whatever they did would be right for them. I would then take their hands in mine and say that it may be, that some time afterwards, they will receive new information or learn something which showed that their earlier decision had not been the best. However they must remember that when they made the decision they didn’t have that information. They didn’t know what they now know and so in that moment it was the right decision. They did what they could, knowing what they did”.
And this is the truth of life – we are all doing the best we can according to our state of consciousness in the moment. No one can do anything other than act based on what we know in the moment. When we understand this, we can give ourselves a break from going over old ground and re-hashing the past with all the “why did I do that?” and all the “what was I thinking?” This habit of beating ourselves up only serves to push us down, slowing down our evolution towards a better, more conscious state. Everything we have done, every decision we have made, was in line with what we knew and perceived in that moment. We are all doing the best we can.