Posted by: shatteringsamskaras | June 7, 2016

Learning Gently

Open to learningI’m a pretty stubborn girl, and boy-howdy do I love feeling like I have a plan. When I was 15, my first boyfriend told me he thought I would be a good elementary-school teacher, and I decided that was what I was going to do with my life. It seemed perfect…Ball State University was the least-expensive state school, AND it had a strong elementary education program. I could get my teaching degree, come back home, and teach.


Two years in, I decided teaching wasn’t really what I wanted to do, but I didn’t want to let go of the plan, so I stuck with my major. My last semester, student teaching, was full of increasingly insistent signs that I should change course. My supervising teacher and I didn’t get along at all. At first, we had little conflicts. Then it escalated to larger conflicts. Finally, she told me flat out she was going to fail me and I should withdraw to save myself the trouble. I still didn’t want to let it go, and tried to commit to making it work out. By the time I’d made the 60-minute drive home, I had come to my senses and decided, finally, to let go of the plan I’d had for five years.

Wow, was that a painful process. And yet, looking back, I wish I’d let go of the plan sooner.

In the nearly quarter-century since I let go of that disaster of a plan, I’ve often held on to things longer than they served me. Relationships. Jobs. Physical stuff. Plans. And time after time, I have found that the same pattern appears. Over and over, I am certain that my pure stubbornness will allow me to force a thing to work for me if I only stick in there. Over and over, I’m proven wrong.

That’s not to say I haven’t had any success. Not to brag, but my life is actually working out pretty darn well. I’ve been successfully self-employed for more than five years, with a comfortable income and repeat clientele. I have a rich social life and an (almost entirely) joyful family life. But what appears to work well for me is never forcing my way through a situation, but flowing with a situation.

Much of my success, personally and professionally, seems to come out of nowhere. I thought that I was setting out to work for myself because I needed to work less, and quickly found myself overwhelmed with projects that appeared almost out of nowhere. I decided to have a casual fling with a friend, and tried to resist as we discovered a profound and healing love for each other. After 25 years of the same lesson, I’ve come to the following conclusion.

I’m not really in control of my life. But whoever is (whether you call it serendipity, God, the universe, fate, or George) seems to like me, have my best interest at heart, and be pretty darn clever. They try to guide me gently. And when I resist they are completely ruthless about getting my attention.

These days, I try very hard not to make it necessary for the universe to pick up a baseball bat to steer me. I try to find the flow and notice the whispers. I’m certainly not perfect at it, but it seems like the right path to take.

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