April 5     

Today's quotation:

Befriending life is less a matter of knowledge than a question of wisdom.  It is not about mastering life, controlling it or exerting our will over it, no matter how well intentioned our will may be.  Befriending life is more about harmlessness than it is about control.

Rachel Naomi Remen

Today's Meditation:

We like to try to control situations and people because it makes us feel safe.  It doesn't make us safe, though--it just makes us feel safe.  If we can control life, then nothing out of the ordinary can happen, and nothing can hurt us.  If we control other people, then we can maintain the status quo and not have to face changes that may be difficult for us to handle.  The desire to control situations seems to be inherent in many of us, but even if it's not inborn, most of us learn it as a strategy for getting by in life.

But life is at its most dynamic when we don't try to control it, when we accept it as it is and roll with it.  We are able to befriend life just as it is and still live lives that are enjoyable and rich and full, without trying to make things turn out the ways that we think they should turn out.  I've realized over the years that life is much wiser than I, and that life will take its course no matter how hard I try to control it.  My efforts at control cause me only frustration and tension, but when I accept what life brings I find that I can deal with it well, and I don't have to live with the tension that my attempts at control used to bring me.

I like the idea of befriending life.  I like the idea of letting life be what it is and dealing with it on its terms, rather than trying to dictate the terms of my relationship with life.  Of course, there are many things that should be controlled-- no one wants someone driving down a residential street at 80 miles an hour, or driving drunk-- but those things are pretty self-evident.  While I still sometimes give advice, for example, I've given up doing so for the most part because I've realized that often, my advice was an attempt to get someone to do something the way I thought they should, rather than finding their own ways of dealing with situations.  That's a level of control that's not at all healthy.

I'm not the manager of the world, and it does me a world of good to not try to manage the world, but to meet it on its terms and learn what it has to offer.  After all, it doesn't feel good to bang our heads against walls.

Questions to consider:

Why do most people try to control so many situations and actions?

Why are so many of us so wary of allowing life to take its course?

How many situations have you tried to control today?  This week?  Why?

For further thought:

Being aware of the difference between what we can control and what we can't is critical for day-to-day happiness.  There is no point in banging our heads against a wall.  Once we understand what we can't do, we can then make the most important decisions about what we will do.

Richard Carlson
Easier Than You Think



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