As you make your plans for the coming year, it might help you to keep in mind what you can and cannot control.
Note: Three years ago, on a bitter cold Friday night at the end of the first full week in January, my life changed in an instant. I woke up in the middle of the night to turn off the heat. The next thing I knew, I was on the floor. By some miracle, I managed to get myself back into bed. I then felt that I was bleeding from the back of my head.
I was lucky that a traumatic brain injury (TBI, also known as a concussion) was the worst of my fate. Not to say that was “easy;” TBIs are complex. Scientists still don’t understand the brain. But it’s better than the possible alternatives: a snapped neck, paralysis, or death.
That moment is one of those demarcations in my life: before and after.
I’ve written a lot about the experience, although I’ve kept most of it unpublished. The truth is that it’s still hard to talk about the intense emotions that came up during that long night in bed before I went to the hospital the next day (The delay? That’s part of the larger story).
Every year I review what I wrote around that time to see which pieces call to be shared with the world.
Below is a piece I found in my Drafts files that I wrote on January 17, 2015 — 7 days after the incident.
Reading it again now, I am comforted by the wisdom it offers. This wisdom will keep me warm as I fall asleep, with the heat off, on this frigid January Friday night.
Whatever we try to control or manage is really what controls us. Control is the opposite of trust.
To exert control means that we don’t trust in God or the universe (or whatever higher source of innate intelligence you believe in) to lead us to where we are meant to go.
So many people talk about building a legacy, as if we can control our own legacy.
When we realize that we have no say in what our legacy will be, everything changes. Life takes on a new perspective.
You may think that you can control your legacy by writing books and blog posts and getting known in this time frame while you are alive.
The truth is, you won’t be around to know what your legacy is. You cannot control how other people remember you or the meaning that they take from your words.
You can control only what you say and what you do. Now. Here. While you are alive.
Your legacy is determined by how other people feel about what you say and what you do.
Your legacy is determined by the experience that other people have with you, and this is not something you can control.
People talk a lot about managing time. This comes from a belief that time is limited. It comes from a mindset of lack rather than abundance.
The truth is, that time is not limited. Time is eternal. We have all the time we need. There is no such thing as wasted time when you trust that everything happens for a reason and a purpose.
God puts us on a path and allows us to make choices, but he (or she) is controlling everything.
What we perceive as a detour may, in fact, be the path. What we think is time wasted may be time in preparation for our task. We don’t know because we are not in control.
What if what you view as wasted time was, instead, time spent in a way that was necessary to bring you to where you are today?
You may not see it in this moment, but that’s where trust comes into play.
Meaning and Purpose
Real life happens when we accept we are not in control. In the surrender to the greater force of nature, we learn to live fully. That’s where we find the richness of our experience.
Trust that you are guided.
Trust that every stop that looked to you like a detour was really a stop to gather the necessary tools and resources for where you are headed.
Because you are.
Because it was.
And because it is.
Thank you for reading. I’d love to hear how this resonates with you. Today is Day 68 of a daily publishing experiment. Your comments to and sharing of my work really help keep me going. If this has helped you in some way, I’d love to know how!