Today I feel like an old bell tower, harsh against the cement sky, ringing out a discordant hallelujah. I feel the energy between the clashing notes and the peace of a quiet campus on an early winter dawn. I feel like a voice is cooing, soft and resolute, into each chamber of my heart, "we have made it".
I got to speak with one of the most beautiful humans I know today, and we had an energetic talk about how much control we have over our own realities. Sometimes we talk about periods, sometimes we talk about mental health, often we talk about our pets, and on occasion will dive into some existential discussions. Typical.
We discussed the victim mindset, where a person truly believes he or she is out of control of their own life, and maybe even that negative things are targeting them. I’ve felt it, and I’ve felt it often. But the truth is that, while we can’t control what happens to us, we can control how we react. It’s a painful saying to hear when you’re in the throes of difficulty, but it’s true.
Then we discussed what we’ve both been learning over the past year:
Sometimes you need everything to go wrong.
We’ve both been walking a path full of deep ruts, interspersed with interruptions and last-minute turns. Job changes, health issues, moves—all these things can change your life instantly. Things like car troubles, foul weather, even a road closed on your route to work can interrupt your flow to great frustration.
These things may look like giant stains on the canvas of your life, but when you step back and look at the big picture, they make up some of the most interesting and vibrant moments of your wild life.
We get so stuck thinking that things are, and will be, a certain way indefinitely. Which isn’t wrong—humans are creatures of habit and we do love a good routine. But there’s something else about us that we don't realize until we're put to the test:
We are master improvisers
Every day, no matter how calculated you are, you’re required to improvise in some way. A conversation with a coworker, a detour, an email. If you’re like me, you have to come up with things like breakfast and what to wear, right there on the spot with minutes to spare.
And this improvisational muscle thrives the more it’s exercised. Think about balancing on one leg. You may waver, but it’s the wavering today that will make it easier for you to balance tomorrow.
The more you stretch yourself to do new and challenging improvisational things, the better you’ll be when the next disruption comes along. I know it’s not easy to welcome things like unexpected job changes, moves, or health issues, but they’re often for the better. Or at least leave a lasting lesson that makes you the multifaceted and enchanting individual that you are.
Something that has helped me deal with disruptions and painful moments in my life has been the oh-so-yoga idea of practicing non-attachment. Which means not holding any moment too closely—negative or positive. Knowing that everything is impermanent has helped me take a more objective look at trials and to feel more gratitude towards happy moments.
Moments where everything goes wrong are moments that our non-attachment is tested the greatest. We want to curl up, to feel like we’re being attacked, to blame the world and its injustices. But letting the fury and spite take a tour of our minds and bodies but not carve out a home for themselves is one of the greatest acts of self love we do for ourselves.
When everything is going wrong, don’t let anger or resentment seep into your gentle marrow. No one benefits from their storage. Allow the emotion, feel the feelings, but then let them go with an exhale.
When everything is going wrong, breathe. You will always have control over your unconquerable soul.