Wouldn’t life be grand if only it would work out according to plan — I mean our plan. You know the one. All neatly folded and earmarked and tagged with colorful sticky notes that indicate the direction, timing and course of All Things.
And then Life, as it is, unfolds. Exactly as it should. But not exactly as we think it should. Kids get sick. Or angry. Or defiant. Clients move on — without you. Love gets lost. Then found again in a completely surprising, delicious and wondrous form.
I draw strength from Elizabeth Gilbert, kindred spirit of words and author of my ultimate favorite book Eat, Pray, Love. She admitted today on Facebook that she was to go to India tomorrow, a place I also want to visit some day. It had been 11 years since her last visit there. Due to a medical situation she had to change her plans. But not without a fight first.
All I was thinking about — even as the doctor was reviewing my results — was how to salvage this India trip, by any means necessary. At first, I negotiated quite hard against my doctor, trying to talk her out of her diagnosis, trying to convince her that my situation wasn’t really that big a deal, and that my treatment could wait. (Curiously, she was unmoved by my strong and completely un-medical opinion!)
Indeed I can relate to her unwillingness to surrender to her reality. How often do we fight against reality, only to lose on average, according to Byron Katie, 100% of the time?
My son admitted to me tonight that his failing grades might mean he has to repeat a grade.
“So what?” I said. “I have seen you work hard. You want to do well. And you’ve done your best. Trust the timing of things.”
Gilbert’s initial resistance to her medical reality gave way to broader insights, which I also shared with my despairing son.
1) Listen to your body. It speaks a language far smarter than any dialect we can speak.
2) Honor reality. It will win every time.
3) If something is not meant to be, then it is not meant to be — for reasons that you may never even know. You can fight against the timing of your life, or you can trust in it. The flow and the peace will only return when you learn to trust.
My son’s final shudder of relief and an exhalation of elation told me that life’s mystery is what we most honor, not the thoughts, agendas and mind maps we have in our heads.
Trust the mystery unfolding. It’s our beautiful companion. Our failure lies not in our lack of fulfilling what we think we should, but in not accepting that which is.