I know what it feels like to have plans and to have them crumble, uncontrollably, right in front of you. I tend to be someone who likes, no, REVERES, knowing the predictable outcome, the “right” choice, the probable cause and effect of my decision making.
Consequently, the collapse of my future plans, was truly earth shattering. Add a touch of perfectionism on top of a fondness for control and you’ve got yourself a ball of fun when it comes to the inconstant, spontaneity that characterizes life.
This last year, when my marriage was over, when the “grand plan” had failed, I believed I had failed. Every single piece that I had worked so hard to hold up and together was dismantled around me like ashes. I was shell shocked. Defeated.
As with the death of anything, I grieved. The analytical side of me went back over the plan and the steps I had taken. I examined every single element to see where the breakdown occurred. If I had said or done one more thing, would the outcome have been different? If I had been more of something or less of another thing, would I have been able to execute the plan better?
And then finally, when discernment set in, I understood that I had been trying to control everything, including the irrepressible. I recognized that I could continue to be miserable because the life before me wasn’t in the original plans. Or, I could get to work on a new plan with faith that it would be even better than the original.
I read this insightful quote,
“Because change is literally the only constant…Energy, matter, it’s always changing. Morphing. Merging. Growing. Dying. It’s the way people try not to change that’s unnatural. The way we cling to what things were instead of letting them be what they are. The way we cling to old memories instead of forming new ones. The way we insist on believing, despite every scientific indication, that anything in this lifetime is permanent. Change is constant. How we experience change, that’s up to us. It can feel like death, or it can feel like a second chance at life. If we open our fingers, loosen our grips, go with it, it can feel like pure adrenaline. Like at any moment we can have another chance at life.”
— Grey’s Anatomy
Something needed to change. My perspective. And it was in this realization, that I got out of my own way. I saw that LIFE wasn’t over even though details of the specific dream I had, had were.
I accepted it, and then my life started to grow into something beautiful….
Rather than fighting and struggling to make precise details fit reality, I allowed reality to be what it was. I took a step back, became quiet, observant. Gratitude entered my life. As I started noticing the things that were going right, and that were 100% in alignment with the vision I had for my life, more and more good started showing up.
Sometimes when we put our lives under a microscope to ensure the tiniest facets are flawless, we lose sight of the overall magnificence. Taking a step back provides a clear view of the things we already enjoy that contribute to a really amazing life. And if you back up a little bit more, you may see that, the not-yet-achieved-goals, are closer than you think.
As I started to notice all the good I had in my life, it created a new perspective in everything I did…
Opportunities began to present themselves in the way of new friendships, new ideas, and occasions that took me out of my comfort zone. These prospects, offered chances to grow just a little bit more, and junctures to be brave and put myself out in the world in a motivating way.
Problems and fears that used to seem so big and so hard became more trivial. And when the more relevant “problems” surfaced, they were broken down into one decision and one answer at a time. As each obstacle became maneuverable, I became stronger, more resilient and more creative with my resolutions.
There was a time last year when I didn’t see the faintest glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. I just kept moving because I had to. I didn’t want to make decisions. I didn’t want to face my life. I wanted to sleep. I wanted numbness to overcome me. I wanted the ache and the constant feeling of anxiety to stop. I wondered every day if this is how I would feel for the rest of my life.
I understand what it is to be sitting in the wake of failed plans, and to have someone tell you “a brighter future awaits.” “Have faith.” “Trust the process.” (Fuck, I hate that phrase.) I adore and cherish every single soul that continued to tell me these things over and over again. I also appreciate that these notions are incredibly hard to believe when you are in the thick of grief. I have experienced this concurrent ambivalence of doubt and hope, which is why I am more than qualified to tell you to believe the clichés…
That when one door closes, another opens. Everything happens for a reason. That positivity is a choice. Gratitude is a practice. And that the happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts. I am a living breathing example that they are true.
I am more uninhibited, courageous, positive and content than I have ever been before. I believe with a whole heart that anything is possible. I dive into life, into scary prospects, into taking risks, because I know that by doing so, I am going to have the most fantastic experiences.
I survived the worst pain of my life and all along I was living a mediocre life. I was so caught up in the safe, plausible plan that I wasn’t fully living.
So my advice is, to hell with mediocre.
Today, I decide to have quality filled days. I choose to have the very best interactions, experiences and relationships. I also choose to lean into the rapture of these things.
Change is inevitable.
Occasionally, things don’t work out the way you hope, sometimes things end, and at times pain accompanies these changes. But you won’t escape pain by having distanced yourself from joy or love. And pain isn’t going to kill you. But, it will make you more experienced, stronger or at the very least more interesting. HA! So, you might as well make it worth your while.
Change can also be the most thrilling experience. Leading us to new heights of happiness and adventure. You never know until you lean in, make the choice, let go and free fall.
All of this is not to say don’t make plans. Oh God, no. MAKE PLANS. DREAM BIG. DREAM HUGE. Plans are a compass for your life. They motivate and direct your decisions, work, and growth.
PLAN to travel the world. To build a successful business. To own a beautiful home. To meet the love of your life. To wake up to an ocean view and cinnamon lattes every morning. Put these dreams out there. Daydream about them, and believe they will one day be your reality.
Surround yourself with good people who have a zest for life, a positive outlook and a determined spirit. These people will influence your attitude and they will inspire you. Be thankful every day for the things in your life that are good. Take chances on the things that scare you. They very well might be the greatest opportunities of your life.
Make plans, friends.
But loosen your grip on the details and on the outcome. Let it unfold and grow freely. And, relish the unexpected serendipities that land in your path. These are the things that will make you smile, uncontrollably and genuinely.
And smiling, is one thing I love having no control over…it’s the best.