God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change
The courage to change what I can
and the wisdom to know the difference.
This is the prayer of Alcoholics Anonymous, and its pervasiveness on bumper stickers, facebook, and inspirational artifacts speaks to our deep need for it. I think it sums up what the belief in a higher power really means.
If you really believe in God, I think you can accept anything,and maybe, by accepting things you come to know Him/Her.
On a pragmatic note, I don’t think you can really live your life to the best of your ability until you’ve accepted what is within and without of your control, and decided to join the dance anyway.
I thought that we could choose our lives, plan them, execute them. That you could make your own according to a master plan, like making a bead necklace or a macaroni memento for your mom. Some elements might be fixed, but for the most part it’s all a matter of how well you glue and not dropping too much junk on the floor.
No, I don’t think life is like that at all. I don’t think we can order from a menu and “take responsibility” in the form of just getting what we expected.
Nothing ever happens as I expect it to when I try to plan too far or too deeply, and things happen the way I would least expect. Not that I’d have it any other way.
I really thought life was this way, like shopping for a new dress or car or something. That’s kind of what I thought of my college and college major as, just brands on the forehead that dictate the rest of your life in some way. When I went to business school, I really thought I’d come out with a 20 year plan, and know exactly what I wanted from life and how to achieve it.
In that, I have failed miserably.
What I learned over the course of my management studies, on a personal as well as academic level, is that you can’t really control anything. It feels kind of sad in a way, and leaves the type A part of me just stamping my foot and feeling like I’ve purchased a bridge in Brooklyn.
I do think you have some control of your life, and there are times destiny is at play. As Forrest Gump says, maybe we choose our destinies and maybe fate decides at the same time. I don’t think we choose to get heart attacks, but every time we go a month without moving besides to eat and get in a car we aren’t really helping ourselves out. We might choose our spouses in western society, but we don’t have that much control over finding the right person. That’s been particularly hard for me to accept. We might start out on one professional path and go to grad school for it and then find ourselves doing an entirely different and unrelated job. C’est la vie. And as Alanis Morrisette says, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
We have choices, but they are on the micro not the macro level. It’s more about brushing your teeth than about having your four bedroom colonial, 2.7 children, and a white picket fence by the time you hit some age.
This has been hard for me to accept.
Very very hard.
Most of the suffering I’ve experienced, or rather all of it, comes form my inability to trust. Unwillingness to accept uncertainty, change, and that there are just things out of my control. If you’ve ever had any doubt, no, I am not God or anything close to it, and the realization of this fact has at times caused a lot of trauma and drama. I didn’t realize how puny humans were, didn’t realize how silly I could be, or how much doubt it would engender in the abilities that I DO have to shift my life. THe painful truth that no, I am not ultimately in control.
But if I can accept this, I don’t have to worry any more.
Not about little things or big things.
The real addiction is this worry, this cancer on the spirit of not being willing to go with the flow of life. That’s where all the overeating and obsessing and inability to concentrate and existential depression come from.
So I hope I can just do what I can and focus on that. Not thinking that I can make myself immortal or invinceable, but to take care of myself as best I can because it is worth doing.
And leave the rest to God.
Life is a lot simpler than I thought.
Probably about to contradict myself in a few sentences or two.
Living isn’t hard, it comes naturally. It’s accepting life that is hard sometimes, but the only way we can ever get out of the illusion of our selves, our fragile little egos, and actually live.
To love, to hurt, to reap, to sow, to gather, to disperse. Like Ecclesiastes said, there is a time for everything.
Just living, rather than trying to plan or control my life, is going to take a bit of getting used to.
But to live iin peace is easy.
Stripped of my care of controlling and planning and executing and choosing and strategizing every breath, I can finally relax and let gol.
As Christ said, My yoke is easy and my burden is light.