I recently had one of those days where nothing goes according to plan. From the moment I woke to the moment my head hit the pillow, my fixed idea of how the day was supposed to unfold kept shifting before my eyes, like a formation of birds rearranging itself in the sky.
Instead of recognizing these simple shifts for what they were, a natural part of a much larger interplay of events well beyond my understanding, I became unnerved by them, unsure of what to make of these sudden impediments.
The truth is they weren’t so burdensome. Only by clinging to my original expectations for how the next 24 hours were to unfold did I come to see them in a negative light. They just as easily could have been considered gifts, an invitation to restructure my time as I pleased, to find inner harmony amidst outer fluctuation.
Life has a way of reminding us that we’re not in control. Become too comfortable with plans and priorities and it won’t be long before a curveball comes your way. Flights are delayed, alarms don’t go off, meetings get canceled, coffee spills, cars give out, and hearts get broken. Any one of these events can easily strip us of our sense of security, but collectively they’re the norm.
Instead of letting our days’ trials disarm us, we can learn to see them as part of the inevitably changing nature of our existence. There’s a tremendous freedom that comes from letting go, from understanding that no matter how deliberately we plan and prepare, our days, weeks, months, and years can look vastly different than we imagined.
While this may seem frightening, consider all the riches that have come your way without your intervention. Think about the relationships you’ve formed on a whim, the chance encounters, the brief exchanges that have laid the foundation for your most cherished connections.
It’s overwhelming to reflect on the innumerable daily interruptions that taken together change the very course of our trajectory. We don’t get a say in how our paths zig and zag, but we do get to choose how we respond when they do.
Imagine if instead of clinging to daily desires, you could make peace with the day’s deviations. What if you could loosen your expectations to simpler imperatives?
Today I want to honor my body.
Today I want to let my confidence shine.
Today I want to use my words to support others.
Today I want to slow down.
Today I want to admire nature’s beauty.
Today I want to practice patience.
When we begin to focus on these broader initiatives, we realize that the rescheduled meetings, late trains, and coffee stains are just notes in the extraneous noise. We start to acknowledge that the things over which we have control – our outlook, how we engage with others, how we take care of ourselves – are of as much importance than the events which easily escape our grasp for control.
When we experiment with this way of living, we learn that the discomfort we work so carefully to avoid isn’t so uncomfortable after all. Our lives would be utter chaos if each change, subtle or significant, carried the weight it so often takes up in our minds.
Practice letting go. Release your expectations, your resistance, your urge to respond in old ways. Welcome the ebbs and flows and watch the rewards take shape.
About the Author: Emily Rose Barr, of A Soul Awake, is a lighthearted creative who pauses to take note… of laughter, color, conversation, open doors, and finer details. A Midwest Native and Mid-Atlantic Transplant, Emily finds beauty in natural surroundings.