“Not” and “Go:” What a Difference Two Words Can Make

There is a note on my bulletin board that says, “You don’t have to make anything happen. Just align with what WANTS to happen and let it.” (Alan Cohen) It’s been there for several years. I keep returning to the wisdom in that admonition. It’s particularly apt counsel for someone like me whose basic nature is to be proactive. (One can carry that too far, it seems . . .)

Concurrently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the art of questioning. The topic keeps popping up not only in my thoughts but also seemingly everywhere I look as I’m reading, listening to podcasts, etc. Something is clearly trying to get my attention!  

Several snippets stand out:

  • If I ask the wrong question, I’ll get the wrong answer.
  • If I’m not getting any answer at all, I’m probably asking the wrong question.
  • Hence, what other question can I ask? What is the “back side” of the thorny query that  stubbornly evades all my machinations?

And then this morning, there it was, unbidden, a different way – back door, if you will – to ask what wants to happen. That is, to be willing also to notice “What does NOT want to happen and let it GO.”

As examples, I recently tried out two new volunteer opportunities only to realize that neither of them was a good fit for me. It feels very different to say, “Apparently these were not ‘trying to happen’ so I can let them go” than to go into my usual default mode of self-recrimination for “not following through.”

Luckily, my third volnteering try was the charm. I fit in immediately and sensed my efforts making a difference. It’s also worth noting that of the three initiatives, the one that worked out was the one I had the most hesitation about.

Being willing to notice is the point. Then judgments can be made. Is this me or not-me? Is it trying to happen or trying NOT to happen? If it’s not-me, I need not attach any expectation or judgment. I can let GO and move on to sniffing out other possibilities, asking more questions. Playfully, even, with curiosity. Mostly, with faith that in the long arc, things work out as they should. I just need to pay attention.