Here's a poem I wrote a few years ago. It is a sort of antidote for when I'm feeling stuck and knotted up, and imagine that I must control my life and its outcomes. I've included some recent thoughts about it below.
Why the hurry?
Breathe my child,
you're not behind.
You're perfectly on time.
It couldn't be another way.
Where you are today,
is beautifully okay.
Breathe deep, loved one.
Breathe with the setting sun.
One day you'll see
how to just be.
Until that day,
please know child,
you are okay.
Your mind may disagree:
"You can't just be.
You must rush,
you must do,
you must resist!"
Breathe with this.
And remember me,
your mother's kiss.
One thing I've learned from a decade of studying therapy and coaching is that almost all personal and relational issues are rooted in feeling that we are not okay as we are.
Most of us carry around a pre-conceptual sense that something is not right about us or the world. We spend decades entranced by various egoic strategies for achieving okay-ness.
If I'm smart enough, nice enough, attractive enough, rich enough, competent enough, authentic enough, powerful enough, righteous enough... then I will be okay.
Because these strategies are pre-conceptual, they can be hard to even notice. They are perceptual filters that bias all incoming experience.
One way to study this is to do nothing. Wake up one day, and just sit in a chair and do absolutely nothing for an hour or two. Don't communicate, read, write, daydream, fantasize, plan, strategize. Just sense your body. Become interested in your breathing, in whatever sensations are present.
As you sit there, not acting on various impulses for action, there will likely be an increasing sense of urgency to act. If you keep your attention on these feelings and inquire into them, they will reveal things about your sense of why you are not okay the way you are. About why it is not okay to just exist without doing anything special.
It might be about some deficiency of yours. Or it might be a sense that the world is hostile and uncaring and you need to protect yourself and your loved ones against it.
It's important to know this in yourself because enduring contentment can only be found through discovering an unconditional trust in the process of life. As long as we take up the role of trying to manage our okay-ness, we will be at odds with life.
As the poet Rilke writes, "What is extraordinary and eternal / does not want to be bent by us."
When we are grounded in a sense of basic trust in ourselves and our environment, life unfolds smoothly. This doesn't mean it unfolds without negative experiences, just that the dynamism of life can continue without getting stuck. This dynamism, when experienced consciously, is inherently meaningful even when it is painful.
Things arise, manifest, then pass away. This has been happening reliably for billions of years without your involvement. Life becomes more enjoyable once we let go of trying to control how our existence manifests, and how long we can cling to various manifestations before they pass away. It also becomes more vital and creative because our attempts to determine what happens for us are constrained by past experience. If we are managing our unfolding through time, its creative expansion is constrained by our limited experiences.
Most people do not trust the flow of life. Instead they are preoccupied with various self-improvement and risk management strategies. These can be so engrossing that entire lives pass without glimpsing the deeper and more profound possibilities of being human.
There is an analogue here between the unconditional loving embrace of a mother, and a sense of being held and supported by life. How much bolder would we be if we felt unconditionally held by life? How much more creative and joyful would life be if we felt "perfectly on time" and "beautifully okay"?
This poem is meant as an invitation into a different way of being.