I'm back from holiday in the Scottish Isles and have been attempting to clear my office of all the paperwork and part projects that have accumulated over recent years in readiness for a push with 'Link Grease' - the web application we're building to help bloggers support and grow their web site's community.
But it really struck me yesterday, in the middle of my 'get sorted' campaign, how the more we try to organise our lives the less serendipity we experience, and (despite all the good advice and 'lifehacks' we come across on the web) the more we let go of our need to control the things that are happening in our life, the better those things have a way of working out.
Perhaps you use a system like GTD to clear your mental decks and manage the fire hose of information in your life, or maybe, like me, you like to take yourself off to some remote place to get your mojo back. Whatever our thing, it almost certainly arises from a belief that to experience 'flow', joy and real creativity we need to organise our life in a way that gives us more of the conditions that are conducive to these states.
And yet this belief has never really worked for me.. and not for others I've talked to either. Life has a habit of throwing us a curve ball just when we think we've got it sussed; or the flow we experience is nothing like the transcendent feeling we vaguely remember from our youth; or by some act of Grace we do experience the bliss of real Flow.. but it's when we least expect it - often when we have almost given up on getting it back again.
In fact it's almost as if the quality of 'flow' we experience is inversely proportional to the amount of control we impose in an effort to experience it in the first place. For most of us, 'flow' and the bliss of being fully present in the moment seems to come in fits and starts showing us mere flashes of our true potential. Yet we never quite seem to make the connection between our need to control our life and our lack of flow and serendipity, do we? So what gives?
This passage from Eckhart Tolle's book, A New Earth: Awakening to your Life's Purpose perhaps hints at the answer. It describes the predicament many of us feel as we try to gets more organised, more productive and more satisfaction in our lives.
The quicker you are in attaching verbal or mental labels to things, people, or situations, the more shallow and lifeless your reality becomes, and the more deadened you become to reality, the miracle of life that continuously unfolds within and around you.
In this way, cleverness may be gained, but wisdom is lost, and so are joy, love, creativity, and aliveness. They are concealed in the still gap between the perception and the interpretation. Of course we have to use words and thoughts. They have their own beauty - but do we need to become imprisoned by them."
So for me at least, when I'm tempted to organise my life - to sort out the good from the bad, the useful and the not.. and feel the need to manage events in a way I feel would serve me best, it helps to take a moment for a little reality check to assess my state of mind before judging or doing anything. I say this because there's one mental concept that is so prevalent, so universally accepted and so entrenched in our psyche that for the most part we are no longer aware of it, never mind think to question it. It is this:
Being open to life just as it is, is dangerous; and being guided by the thoughts in our heads is safe.
This belief sits at the root of our problems - business, social and 'personal'. 'Being open to life as it is' seems so counter-intuitive, such an un-intelligent idea and so fraught with risk that we rarely, if ever, consider it a possible strategy for living. Yet I believe those seven little words define completely the conditions for experiencing true flow, for realising our true Nature, for experiencing that imperturbable joy that springs from within regardless of circumstances, and for opening our minds to a knowing and an intelligence that all but a few amongst us have long forgotten.
Our need to control is what makes the illusion of our separateness seem so real. It's the way the mind denies our interdependence and maintains it's preferred state of independence. And so to become non-resistant to everything 'as it is' and allow ourselves to relax into the experience of the connection that exists between us - our oneness with life, would be to go against everything that history and our society has taught us. It would invalidate the whole belief system we have built our self-concept upon. Everything we believe about who we are would be in jeopardy. What a terrible price that would be to pay for freedom! ;-)
It's probably not a good idea to attempt to describe what it is like to live life un-resisted, but there's no need because it's easy enough to discover that for ourselves. Here a little experiment you might like to try: -
Just for one day we could allow ourselves to not know what to think or say or do, and come to the day with just one agenda item - to experience everyone and everything exactly as it is. For one day only, we could be willing to let go of all our ideas about what life is, and what is good for us.. and instead trust life to live itself through us.. and just see what happens. Our own Inspiration will guide us in this, if we allow it.
If you are brave enough to try this, I'd love to hear how you get on.
The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping even... neither in looking back to what it was, nor forward to what it might be, but living in the present and accepting it as it is now"... Anne Morrow Lindbergh
.. It is the little twisted thought that tells us that things that appear in our life are somehow happening outside of this consciousness that is aware of them; the thought that maintains the illusion that Life is divisible - that there is this temporary little bit of life called 'me' just here, and the rest of 'Life' is something else - that stuff 'out there' - something beyond my immediate influence and therefore potentially problematic. It is a prison of our own making - a world of powerlessness and suffering pictured by our thoughts. Reality is nothing like this at all.
.. What an amazing paradox that it's only when we are willing to allow all things to change that we become aware of that which never changes - our true nature.