When I was a teenager I had a poster on my wall that said, “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans.” This was before John Lennon sang “Beautiful Boy” so even though he gets lots of credit for some version of this quote now, I can attest I had the poster first.
I started 2015 with lots of plans. This blog. A series of retreats. Ideas for workshops and public speaking and opening a new spiritual direction practice. My mind was whirling with interesting schemes. I felt ready to start dating again after last year’s heart-break. I set my word for the year as discipline and wrote down goals for numbers of miles I’d be walking and number of words I’d be writing and number of retreats I’d be leading.
And then, life.
I got an unexpected offer on my house the first week of January. I accepted. I scrambled to find a new place to live. A lousy virus kicked my butt for a couple of weeks. And suddenly, I knew I wouldn’t be pulling off my February speaking and retreat plans while packing to move and working to stay healthy.
And so it goes. The life now happening to me feels like exactly what needs to be happening. But clearly, not what I had planned. I decided my birthday will be my “new year” so all the goals I set for January 1 have now been reset for early March. We’ll see how that goes.
I have lots of friends who are very into visioning and manifesting and working hard to make their best thoughts become their reality. Me, I’m a bit more into letting life unfold for me in surprising ways. Not that I don’t have visions. Not that I’m going to stop making plans. But sinking into the unknowing and trusting that I don’t need to be in control seem to serve my peculiar personality best.
My friend Brian and I have an ongoing joke about manifestation. He’s a fan. See it. Believe it. Manifest it! The last time we had dinner I enumerated various events in my life where I did just that. And the outcome sucked. Then I named several other life events that came to me seemingly out of the blue – pure grace! – without my conscious awareness. And the result was miraculous.
He suggested that I had done some visioning to open myself to those moments. I didn’t disagree. And I admitted that my less than stellar outcomes generally came from manifesting my ego’s needs. We settled on a playful co-creation between self and spirit, vision and trust, planning and receiving.
Discipline is still my word for the year. I can see what I want to make happen and I know what next steps I plan to take. But I am adding a word that has served me well in recent years: surrender. Not giving up, but giving over. Letting life surprise me. And being willing to pull my oars out of the water and go with the flow.
What about you?