John Lennon wrote these lines for his song “Beautiful Boy”. A bit of wit and concise wisdom, these words have been a refrain of mine for some years. They remind me that my BIG plans for the day, week, month, or year are just that…plans. As an example, many of us have had similar experiences like this one: you’re about to go for a hike and as you walk out the door, you hear a loud banging sound coming from the washing machine. Water is seeping onto the floor. You are not going for a hike, you are going to have either fix it yourself or call a plumber, or least get the water to stop running and then go for the hike.
This is life. We need to be easy in our saddle for when life interrupts our agenda. The little annoyances, which are more numerous, can be viewed as daily practice drills for developing spiritual and emotional resilience, gaining a modicum of patience, and as a way to avoid the soul’s arch-enemy, complacency.
I, for one, need to be continually reminded of this. Generally speaking, I consider myself a good-natured, happy sort of person. When life goes really smoothly for any length of time, my human tendency is, I want it to continue! I don’t want (notice how many times I am using I) to have to deal with unexpected unpleasantness. Yet it is the perennial curve balls that are a part of life that polish us our edges and hopefully keep us humble and grateful. There is always grace in “embracing the whole catastrophe”.
That includes the REAL (i.e. IMPORTANT) stuff too. Not just the washing machine, the flat tire; but the sick kid, the dying parent, the divorce… the losses that take our life’s journey as we had known it and catapult it onto another plane entirely. We are temporarily disillusioned, disoriented, and at times, disheartened. It is these big things that can and do stop us in our tracks, seize us (for a time) from the endless being busy making other plans. We are present in a way that only suffering and great change provides.
Now I’m not a believer that everything happens for a reason or that God saves some people in a car crash while letting others die. I don’t want a Puritanical God who like Jonathan Edwards envisioned, “holds us like tiny spiders over an open pit.” If there is a tally maker up in the sky counting transgressions, He/She/It has too much time on their hands. I know that sometimes things make no sense, and that bad things happen randomly and without warning. I believe God is our co-conspirator in grieving, in healing, and in finding creative ways to make some larger meanings in our life from ALL of our experiences. I do. I have witnessed it too many times to doubt it.
It’s necessary to make plans. It’s good to be busy (as long as we also take some time to just be). Yet it is those surprising events (in turns gleeful and terrifying), chance meetings, or tiny disasters that change us. Take courage. If we let them, our life will grow in miraculous ways.
Some food for thought from a great little book entitled “The Right Questions” by Debbie Ford: “Will I use this situation as a catalyst to grow and evolve or will I use it to beat myself up?”
When someone whines, “life is just one thing after another”, I always think, yeah, right, life IS just one thing after another. The difference in whining about it or in simple acceptance is Your REALITY.