Often the Universe seems like utter chaos to me – what I think is going to happen seldom does, and what does happen is usually a complete surprise. That scared the hell out of me, and my inner control freak panicked, every single time.
My inner control freak wanted things to always work out perfectly smoothly (wouldn’t it be great if life actually worked like that?). In order to achieve the unachievable, I planned. My vacations were scheduled down to the minute (whoops, flight delay – queue my Anxiety), I was always on time for meetings (traffic jam – Stress, you’re up!), restaurants must be reserved (because that always worked out…. 5 minute wait! Frustration, enter stage left!), and so on. I’d even get stressed and anxious if I wasn’t clearly over-preparing in advance, before any trouble even had the chance to occur!
Even though all that energy I have spent preparing, and the energy I allowed my anxiety to draw from me, was probably enough to dig a new chunnel from England to France…with a soup spoon…that energy didn’t go to waste. It was the best tool I had at the time, and for the most part it worked well. Vacations usually went off without a hitch, I made it on time to most of my meetings, and judging by my waistline it would appear that eating out was never a problem.
This planning tool helped to get me to where I am today. It wasn’t very relaxing though.
Since the only tool I had for these situations was my planning/anxiety hammer, I pounded in every problem with it – nails, screws, pins, or kangaroos, it didn’t matter. Surprisingly, hammering a kangaroo into a 2×4 expends unbelievable amounts of energy, and despite my extensive planning and preparing (and really, this was my attempt to control for the outcome I wanted), I kept getting smacked by angry kangaroos.
I’ve come to the conclusion after much training and learning that it might be easier to just trust myself.
Trust in myself and trust in the Universe. Trusting myself to me means knowing that no matter what happens, I can handle it. Trusting the Universe to me means just letting go of my steering wheel on the highway and knowing the car will get me to where I’m going, so I can have a nap.
Wait… my car isn’t self-driving yet. I do love naps though.
Trusting the Universe to me means paying attention – specifically I see it as being aware of the River that is the Universe and working with the flow instead of against it. It doesn’t mean abdicating all responsibility (as relaxing as that sounds to the old me), instead it means being aware enough to see the huge rapids awaiting me around the next bend, and nudging myself a bit now to avoid them later.
To extend the metaphor, trusting myself means that I know how to comfortably swim, and I have learned how to stick my head up enough to look around and see what’s coming. I can nudge myself to the best possible outcome with a few kicks, and avoid most of the rocks. And even if I run into a sandbar I didn’t see, I know how to get clear of it and keep going. Knowing how to swim, and how to see around the bend – that’s relaxing for me.
What has felt truly remarkable has been how…smoothly… things have gone when I am paying attention and working with the River instead of against it. I can share many stories of remarkably snag-free journeys, including those that even when things do go wrong, they go wrong in in a way that I can handle and solve. Maybe that’s the River looking out for me. Maybe that’s me paying attention to the River and nudging myself at the right moment – being prepared for the rapids in a whole new way.
Then it seems to me that once the Universe knows you’re paying attention, it will start asking you to nudge other people, to help them avoid the giant waterfall around the bend that they aren’t looking out for because they’re busy looking back upstream and wondering what bad luck they must have because they hit that last rock so hard.
I don’t yet see their upcoming waterfall, and I don’t yet know why they’re looking back – and it doesn’t matter. I’m learning to nudge others when the Universe recommends that I nudge them, without question or hesitation. This is the Universal version of the Butterfly effect. Sometimes a simple hello can change a person’s life. Sharing my cigars with a group of strangers can cause oceans to form on a distant and lifeless planet.
This is happening to all of us, all around us all the time, and it’s all very efficient really. I am both the nudger and nudgee, actor and audience, giver and receiver, hammer and nail… and the screw, and the kangaroo. And so are you. Maybe this blog post is a nudge for you.
For the record, I’m still almost always on time for meetings, and if I’m going to be late, I can call.