A few years ago I wrote a book called ‘The Lessons’. It was written as a gift to my niece who was leaving South Africa for Israel. It contains 22 ‘lessons for life’ – things I have learned and that I wanted her to carry with her. It is far from perfect, and not all original. I have learned so much from so many wise souls. But it is my take on ways to live with purpose. I am going to post one lesson for every day of this weird time in which we find ourselves, with a little Corona ‘twist’ added to the mix. I am doing it mainly for myself – there are a lot of hours to fill these days! If some of the lessons help some of you, great. Either way, it gives me something to add to my morning rituals. Finding meaning and purpose at this time is no less important than at any time. Have a blessed Saturday.
TRUST THE PROCESS
‘Life isn’t meant to be lived perfectly…but merely to be LIVED… Boldly, wildly, beautifully, uncertainly, imperfectly, magically LIVED.’
Life is so much bigger than we are. At any given moment, things are happening about which we have no clue, and yet, in time, they influence our lives in immeasurable ways. Somewhere, a boy is breaking up with a girl. While she is mourning the break-up, you are somewhere wondering whether you will ever meet your ‘special one’. Months—even years—later, that girl becomes your wife. Life is scheming and planning. It sees her, and it sees you. Life knows what it is doing.
We are so limited by our sensory information—we can only see the small picture. The bigger picture is way beyond our purview. Why then do we worry so much about the things over which we have so little control? Why is it so hard to trust Life’s process?
I do not believe that worry is innate. I think that human beings have been conditioned to worry. The infant does not worry about its next meal—it simply gets fed. Only when—through abuse or ill-treatment—the food does not come will the infant begin to worry. It is a learned response.
‘Be careful of strangers’; ‘Don’t go into the woods’; ‘Watch your back’—these messages condition us to believe that all is not well in the world. Sure, bad things happen, but it is my contention that no amount of worry will prevent the bad things from happening—they will happen, whether we worry about them or not. But so will the good things.
The process of Life unfolds regardless of how much anxiety we choose to attach to it. Some even argue that excessive worry and anxiety may actually draw the negative closer, but I don’t know whether that is true or not—after all, there is a certain degree of randomness in the world. And then there is cause and effect. Somewhere between ‘shit happens’ and ‘I am in charge’ lies the human experience.
Given the choice to worry or to trust, I have found that trust serves me better. When you trust the process, you choose to believe that Life is unfolding as it should. People will die; you will get sick—it is impossible to be alive without experiencing some degree of suffering. But you will also experience love. And you will also experience good health.
The visual representation of a heartbeat on an Electrocardiography (ECG) machine is a beautiful metaphor for life. Our heartbeat is life itself—a series of ups and downs and highs and lows.
And yet, human beings want life to be a straight line.
But a straight line is death—it is the complete opposite of what life is! Once you understand this, you stop fighting Life—you take the good with the bad and the bitter with the sweet.
When Nelson Mandela was inaugurated, he was asked how it felt to be at the top of the mountain. He responded with these memorable words:
‘I have discovered the secret that, after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.’
Somehow, we believe that having achieved a goal, we will receive our much-longed-for straight line. But it doesn’t work that way, I’m afraid. There is no respite—not while you are alive! Mandela knew this. At the summit, you can see those other hills. You may certainly rest—the long upward climb may require it, but it will not be long before you have to walk downhill. Soon, the uphill climb will begin again— after all, you’re alive! Why would you want a flat line? If you know that life is full of uphills and downhills, why should you worry? Would it not make sense to trust the process instead?
For me, trust and faith are synonymous. I have met so many people who have faith in God, yet they lack trust. Whatever—or whomever—you choose to call your God, Life is God’s gift to you. You cannot have faith in God without trusting in Life—they are the same thing! You cannot trust the one without trusting the other.
In order to trust life, you must allow it to unfold without feeling the need to control it. You must, however, influence it every step of the way. Control and influence are not the same thing. Control is the opposite of trust. Influence requires taking proactive steps to create the life you desire, whereas control assumes that all the variables are up to you. They rarely are. Trust is yours for the taking. Trust the ups and trust the downs and be grateful for both. When they stop, so too does life.
Human beings are interesting creatures—when we find ourselves at the bottom of life’s pulse, we look skywards and lament, “Why me?”. When we find ourselves at the top, we look skywards and say, “Thank you’.
Enlightened souls do the opposite. When they are in trouble, they say, “Thank you”—for the trouble shall pass, and in time they will understand the gifts that it brought. When fortune smiles on them, they say, “Why me?”—acknowledging that they are deserving of the gift that has come to them. This practice is so counter-intuitive that it almost sounds absurd, but you should try it next time you find yourself at a high or low point.
The troubles don’t last, and neither do the gifts—that would be flat-line living, and there is no such thing. When you embrace it all, when you are grateful for it all, and when you trust it all, you will find yourself in harmony with Life’s rhythm. Half the battle will be won. From this place, you can begin to make your choices.
Welcome to a life of trust. It is the first—and most important—lesson.
TRUST THE PROCESS –
When I think about the things that I was ‘worried’ about in January 2020, here I sit in lockdown – with a whole new set of worries! What a waste of time. That is why I am choosing not to worry right now. I am replacing my worry with trust. Consciously and purposefully. Do I think about life post-Corona? Sure. But thoughts and worry are not the same thing. I am consciously training my mind not to worry. I breathe deeply when I feel worry and angst take over; then I breathe out the worry and I breathe in trust. Deep trust. This tiny virus is so much bigger than me, than all of us. We didn’t see it coming and we have no control over it. All we can do is our best every day. So, I continue to trust that this process, this time, will in some way serve a bigger purpose – I don’t know what it will be but, as with life, the lessons come after the experience. All I can do is keep myself safe, take necessary precautions, and trust that how it unfolds is how it is supposed to unfold. If I get Covid-19, I will deal with that. If someone I love gets it, I will deal with that. But I will only deal with it when it happens. I will not let my mind run away from me. I am my mind. I will train my mind and exercise my ability to reprogramme it – less worry, more trust. I will keep the faith. What my life looks like post-Corona is as much about what I do during Corona as it is about forces beyond my control. TTP … Trust The Process.
‘Somewhere between ‘shit happens’ and ‘I am in charge’ lies the human experience.’
Written by: Trevor Waller – View on Facebook
Contact Trevor: firstname.lastname@example.org