There’s a refrigerator magnet I’ve seen for sale in some stores that reads: “You make plans. God laughs.” I love that reminder to let go and allow life to unfold instead of constantly struggling to control it. It’s a reminder I need quite often, as most of us do, I would guess. Our educational institutions teach us very early that working hard and trying are rewardable attributes. “Going with the flow” or using intuitive insight to guide daily activities is just not acceptable behavior within a system geared to the future productivity of adults-in-the-making. In first grade, we even have “Think and Do” workbooks to teach us how to achieve control over our classroom studies. So, by the time we reach adulthood, we are thoroughly conditioned to think a lot and do a lot. We make “To Do” lists every day and try hard to keep life handleable. Never really works, does it?
Life has a way of being messy and out of our control. Plans are continually disrupted by the unexpected in one form or another. What if we could rewind our lives back to first grade and choose a different handbook for life, one called “Pause and Reflect” or “Breathe and Be”? Not completely impossible, if we think of time, and our selves, as infinitely flexible. We can choose to respond differently now and break the old conditioning with conscious awareness. What if you allow life to live you, rather than trying to make life play by your rules?
Lately, I have noticed that I am “allowing” with greater frequency. I watch my life take shape each day as both an observer and a participant. This means that my “soul as witness” is very much a part of my consciousness. From that perspective, I see how “I” fit into what is unfolding. If I look at everything as a divinely orchestrated stream of events, then my own place in it just seems to emerge organically. I don’t have to plan every detail ahead of time; I just respond with awareness to what is before me. I allow life to be a mystery that is opening up all around me. I don’t have to solve it; I just have to experience it. And in truth, that’s all I can ever do. Control is an illusion. We want to believe we have some control because we are frightened of the unknown.
But nothing is known for certain in our universe. Native Americans call it “the Great Mystery” for good reason. Yesterday’s “truths” are pushed aside by today’s “truths,” and tomorrow will debunk them all. What if we could live peacefully with that constant flux, letting every day be a mystery to step into with anticipation and excitement, as though we had front-row seats to a wonderfully innovative new play or film? What if we looked at our lives from that perspective, as both actors and audience? And God as improv coach.
It’s called surrender, a spiritual concept hard to swallow for most people. Yet, if we are to find peace, within ourselves and with one another, perhaps it is something we should consider. It’s not an instant solution to the challenges we all face; it takes practice, surrendering over and over. Still, the more I let go, the more I experience a profound freedom and calm. When you let life live you each day, you can gratefully set aside the endless list of tasks and just be present for it all.