Life can seem so very mysterious and unknown. In certain moments, the unknown can be seen as an adventure and exciting, in other moments the unknown may seem to be synonymous with an unpredictable lack of safety. I like the comforts of the "known," as do many. I like familiar music, knowing plans and having a schedule, having the route to my bathroom in the dark memorized, knowing my bills will be paid and how, and that my car will travel safely. I do rely on some of that "known," in order to feel safe, and I have, every now and then been surprised by a flat tire, dead battery, late rent payment or a laundry basket in the way of my route to the bathroom in the dark.
If I react with resistance, judgment and anger every time something unknown and possibly unpleasant, surprises me, then I would be externalizing my power. I would be expecting the people, places and circumstances that I encounter to operate in a particular way in order to maintain my peace. That is simply way too much randomization to base my happiness on, so I must accept “what is,” look for the blessing and make a party out of it as best as I can.
Preferring, liking and wanting to “know” what is going to happen is different than the feeling of fear of not knowing, or the obsession and need to “know” in order to feel safe. Learning to navigate the mystery with an increasing amount of curiosity, grace and surrender, can help prevent us from filling the moment with fear and searching our brains for answers that can’t exist while the unknown variables of the mystery, are at play. That circular searching of the mind with fear can activate stress, panic, adrenaline, the attempt to control the uncontrollable and putting our peace off on the lay-away plan. Setting our attention in the “now,” gives us a sense of the “known,” as the “known,” is simply a moment to moment experience.
I love the serenity prayer from the 12-step program. I use it when I feel rocked or when I simply want to begin my actions from a grounded place. I often rely upon it to remind me that I am human and can only control two things, my perspective and my behavior.
"Please grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference."
This simple prayer is a lifeline for me, it helps me to recognize that I cannot control traffic, I cannot make people tell the truth, I cannot dictate the weather, a delayed airplane, an election, a flat tire, or many other things. I do, however have access to controlling my perspective and that perspective gives me my behavior. My perspective today is that there is a blessing in ALL things. As I look for it, I see it everywhere. I saw it in a connecting talk with my Dad, in intimate conversations with strangers, and in a more awakened community.
We never know what the mystery provides. I’ve heard it said that people make plans and God laughs. My friend Mariah came to join me for a doctor’s appointment, when low and behold, my car wouldn’t start. I was pretty sure it was a dead battery so I called AAA. “Let’s have a dead battery party,” I said, “there’s a blessing in divine timing and we shall look for it.” I called the doctor’s office and it turns out that my doctor was running extremely late. When we left the appointment, there was a woman in a wheel chair that asked us if we would wheel her to the emergency room because she said she wanted to hurt herself. Of course we wheeled her.
As we rolled her along, I asked her if it was ok to whisper some things in her ears. She said, “yes please.” I whispered to her that Mariah and I were just talking about how the root of our suffering is that we have these thoughts that we are somehow not good enough and that we believe those thoughts. I told her that we were made in the image and likeness of the infinite divine universe and because of that it was impossible for any of us to not be enough. I asked her to please be merciful and forgiving of herself. As we brought her to the counter of the emergency room, I touched her arm and she turned to me, and smiled. That was the best dead battery party we ever attended.
Fearful thoughts that plague our minds can leave us feeling very much out of control. Engaging in our fear thoughts however, is something we can practice gaining control over with awareness. My friend Karl and I came up with a distinction called, “First Thought, Second Thought.” Our theory is that thoughts are infinite and are flyi