In this issue ~~
Toward the beginning of the film, Shakespeare in Love, we see Philip Henslowe, producer of the Rose Theatre, being dragged away for money he owes a creditor, Hugh Fennyman. When Henslowe explains that theatre is a business replete with disasters, Fennyman, understandably, wants to know where his money will come from. "What do we do?" he demands. "Nothing," Henslowe replies. "Strangely enough, it all turns out well." "How?" Fennyman asks. Henslowe responds, "I don't know. It's a mystery."
Nowadays, we're led to believe that if we don't plan our week, our year, our life, for that matter, it's all going to fall apart and we'll be destitute. I'm all for a bit of planning and saving for the future, but the truth is, there's no way that we can predict what's going to happen. Even if we take all the precautions in the world and plan in detail, we can't guarantee that everything will work out the way we expect. "The best laid plans of mice and men" often go awry.
We have an illusion (or perhaps a delusion) that we're in control of our lives. Sure, we have some control, but there is much that is beyond our control. We can do whatever we can to bring about good things and avoid bad, but some things will happen no matter how much we prepare. But this is also good news. Often, wonderful things happen that we could never have predicted or caused. Situations that seem dire can resolve positively, even though we can't see a way to get there.
As I was writing this, I experienced a "day from hell," where everything went haywire. Some Christmas gifts I had ordered looked like they wouldn't arrive in time, my Internet connection (which I use constantly) went down on Christmas eve, when tech support had gone home for the holidays, and a few other minor mishaps occurred that I won't bore you with. Did I worry? Did I fret? Well, yes, I did, but I kept reminding myself that things just work out and this would, too. Did I feel out of control? Yes, but I got help. I got my Christmas gifts just in time, and tech support returned from their festivities and helped me get back online. The minor incidences resolved themselves as well.
Many of us were taught to worry by our parents, by example. It becomes an emotional habit that just seems to come upon us as an automatic reaction, without our knowing how or why. Worry is actually a misuse of our imagination and ability to create abstract thoughts. We think that what we're worrying about is real, and it often cascades into fear.
At one time, fear was a survival mechanism – we're wired for it, but we no longer need it in the same way we did when faced with a saber-toothed tiger. Now, we use that mechanism to worry about what could go wrong, rather than what's right in front of us. We see it as a talisman to keep the evil spirits away. But it's been said that 90 percent of what we worry about never happens anyway, so what a waste of good energy!
In a similar vein, we're often afraid to take on a new challenge because we can't foresee how to take it all the way to its conclusion, and the unknown frightens us. The truth is, we never really know how things will work out, no matter how planned and predictable they may seem. By taking the first step or two, we pave the way for people and opportunities to show up that guide us to the next steps. By venturing into the unknown and unplanned, we open ourselves to wonderful outcomes that we could never have anticipated.
But what about real threats? Certainly, terrorism is frightening, and some of us have been impacted directly. But for most of us, aside from dealing with heightened security at airports and theatres and such, it's a fear of what might happen to us, rather than something that actually has or is a real probability.
In truth, most of us are still quite safe. We need to remember that because something happened to someone else, it doesn't mean it will happen to us. We don't want to do anything foolhardy, but we don't have to lock ourselves in our homes and stockpile provisions. Upsets and tragedies are a normal part of life. Throughout human history, we have survived them and triumphed, and we will continue to do so.
The good news is, things often work out *better* than we anticipated. By being open to possibility and letting go our grip of control, serendipity often brings us things we couldn't have imagined or made happen directly by our efforts. We meet people, jobs fall into our laps, opportunities come our way that lead us to an even brighter future.
What about when things don't work out the way we want? Perhaps there's a lesson we can learn from it. Perhaps what seems like a disaster is actually opening us up to a greater opportunity – I can cite many cases of people who lost their jobs in recent years who went on to something much better. Worst case scenario, we can make the most of what life has handed us and turn it into an opportunity.
Even for those of us who believe we create our own reality, in truth, it's a co-creation with a power much greater than us. There is much that we can do, but at some point, we need to let go of our pictures of how we think things ought to turn out. Life is a surprise. There's no way we can possibly predict all the twists and turns it will take. By doing our part and then letting go and experiencing what follows, it will take us places we could never have anticipated.
So, with all the temptation these days to worry about the future, it is going to work out, although perhaps not the way you expected. Think about what you want, and perhaps make some lists, but don't get stuck on how it will turn out. If you feel in your gut that you're moving in the right direction, just keep going, and the next step will reveal itself to you at the appropriate time.
Be patient, and be open to the possibility that something wonderful lies in your future. If you're in a difficult situation, do what you can and know that eventually, it will pass. Stay alert and deal with anything that looks like it might grow into a problem. Then, relax and be open to what the universe brings you, knowing you can handle it.
When I get worried, I like to think of a saying that author/teacher Joan Borysenko shares in her video, Inner Peace for Busy People:
"Everything is okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's
not the end!"
Try this experiment: Go out for a walk or a drive, but don't plan where to go. Just follow your whims and see where it leads you. Let it be an adventure!
"I've been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened."
"Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength."
"If you believe that feeling bad or worrying long enough will change a past or future event, then you are residing on another planet with a different reality system."
(click on the book or DVD graphic to see a description at Amazon.com)
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