Who’s in Charge?

So, who’s in charge? Well, clearly, not me! No, this should not be news… but somehow I never quite get beyond thinking I can control things. Some things. Some of the time. The ones I really, really care about.

The Universe keeps trying to send me messages about this, but I’m tenacious in my denial. You know, the old “I just have to try harder, work longer” tactic. This week, though, multiple messages have zapped me. First, one of my day books (see below) chimed in with this zinger:

“You are not the general contractor of the Universe.” This made me laugh out loud, probably because I have been a general contractor, on one small project, this house that my late husband and I built 12 years ago. Just the words “general contractor” brought back a flood of memories, dealing with details, scheduling, unreliable or touchy subs, faulty or incorrect equipment, pieces that should have fit but didn’t, etc. etc. Yes, we finished the project, and yes, we were pleased and satisfied with the result, but it was challenging, and that’s one house, not the Universe, not my life!

Yet many of us, I suspect, somehow do think we are general contractors of our lives, and, to be honest, at times even of the lives of those close to us. It’s true that we need to make plans and decisions. The problem sets in when we begin to imagine that our sphere of influence is greater than it actually is, or when we stop remembering that other forces are at work. It’s not just what I do that determines what happens!

Second message of the week: reading an anecdote about a man who remembers riding in a little car at a fair when he was little, how proud he was of his ability to steer around the track. Then, he took his hands off the steering wheel and was horrified (enough so to remember this decades later) to realize that the car was being steered without his input. Poor little fellow – the car was on a track, destined to go on the preordained track no matter what he did! The author tells this story metaphorically, suggesting that like his little car, our lives go where they will go whether we “steer” them or not.

I’m always intrigued by getting the same message from multiple places within a short time. Makes me think there is some old-fashioned telephone operator out there trying to get through to me, ring my number with a message I need. I picture her (Hmmm – wonder why it’s a “her”) saying, “Well – she didn’t pick up on that one; let’s try this one.”

The control issue is a life-long one for me, and not only for me, I’m sure. It’s fear, I guess – a sense that things will happen that we will not be able to bear, so we darn well better orchestrate our way around the challenges. Truth is, we bear the unbearable. Not by choice, of course, but we bear it. And we make many more things harder just by trying to overmanipulate them.

And yet. It is hard to know how to get off the controlling track. I caught myself saying at one point that I was trying so hard to “let go.” There’s an image that’s an oxymoron: “letting go” is, actually, the antithesis of “trying.”  The only way I can think to approach this is to breathe deeply, gently let these messages penetrate my mind, and hope they seep from there into my heart where, with a soft sigh, letting go can begin. Just maybe that miracle can germinate, and start to grow. Forces far greater than our little selves are at work, every minute of every hour of every day, and I believe those forces are working for our best interests, even when we cannot see where they are leading…It’s just that is really hard to keep sight of that in midst of the ruckus and chaos that is our life.

Meanwhile, it’s probably safe to assume that wherever you are, that it’s H-O-T, another thing we can’t control. Stay as cool as you can, literally and figuratively!

(The book I refer to is A Year of Living Your Yoga by Judith Hanson Lasater. It is a gem, each entry only a few short sentences, but always something substantive to think about. Check it out.)

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