Rain dances on palm trees and puppies press against me. Wind blows storm clouds across ocean and land. A welcome reprieve from the heat. Rain drenches dry ground. Earth drinks in much needed moisture. Thunder claps. Puppy trembles. I soothe her. The storm will pass. It always does. Even now I see patches of blue sky.
Weather changes quickly at the ocean, often offering little warning. Storm clouds are much like psychological storms. Emotions arise suddenly and, too often, we are blindsided. We forget the blue sky of our true essence. Like the puppy trembling beside me, we worry that the storm will never end. We worry that we are in danger. We live the fear of our imagined future. We live it again and again. The puppy fears that the thunder will harm her. Maybe it will, maybe it won't but she is living as if it’s happening now. She’s living the imagined harm moment by moment, experiencing it repeatedly. All the while, she is safe and unharmed.
We are much the same, aren’t we? We fear an imagined future and we live it repeatedly as if it were true right now. We worry about an upcoming meeting or trip. We imagine conversations in our head. We imagine worse case scenarios. We imagine the inconvenience, the rejection, the failure, the stress, the exhaustion. We imagine it all and we feel it all, even when it isn’t actually happening.
My question to you is this, what would life be like if you lived it all only once. Just once. If you are dreading an upcoming meeting, what would it be like for you to drop your story about it and live the meeting once? What would it be like for you if you stopped imagining the upcoming conversation in your head and simply lived that conversation once?
Do you see what I mean? I have no idea how the conversation, trip, or situation will go. It may go perfectly or it may be a disaster but we only have to live it once, in the moment.
Here's what I’ve discovered: when I stop imagining how the trip, conversation, or situation might be, I’m able to face the situation with more clarity, resources, and energy than when I’ve worried myself to death about it. It usually turns out much differently than I had imagined and if it doesn’t, I only have to live it once.
This has been a game changer for me in many ways, from simple situations to more difficult situations. I remember when my dad got sick with cancer. I was worried how it would be, if I could handle it, and how awful things could get, especially since we’d never been close. It turns out that those two years were healing years for us. Against all odds, years of anger and disappointment dissipated and a tender love filled the void. It could have been just the opposite but why live it more than once?
I used to believe that if I worried about the future, I might be more prepared for it. I find the opposite to be true. When I worry, I become stressed, unclear, and less resourceful. I’m less prepared and less capable.
You see, the storm always passes. Let’s live the storm only once knowing the clear blue sky of our wellbeing always remains.
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