“When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability…To be alive is to be vulnerable.” -Madeleine L’Engle
Lately I am trying to pay attention to the places where I get stuck. Here is my Achilles heel; the moments when life is clearly outside of my control and even flies in the face of all of my best efforts to organize it. I am traveling and just found out earlier this week that the company that I paid to reserve me a room at the hotel closest to the convention center took my payment but never made the reservation.
With less than a week before the event, they called to share their apologies for their mistake and offer me a room that was over a mile away. Arriving at the replacement hotel, only to learn that they hadn’t transferred my payment here either and that the room was barely standard re-engaged me in the full indignation of how out of my control the situation is. The truth is that these kind of situations are daily events. We do the best we can to plan, accommodate and try to prepare a way into the future and then life happens. People make mistakes, communications break down, people get sick, accidents happen….
A dear friend of mine was dealing with some of her own best laid plans gone astray and commented to me about how our collective addiction for the need to control life is really just our way of avoiding the vulnerability that life creates. The truth is that on a certain level, we are powerless in the face of life. Life lives through us at least as much as we live through life. Embracing this fact and figuring out how to build a relationship to all that is really beyond our control speaks volumes to the peace we are able to create in and around us.
The corollary to this truth is that we are also profoundly powerful. We have the capacity to dream and strive and sometimes realize our dreams even in the midst of so many life details that make most paths winding instead of a direct shot. The beauty and humility of living comes from holding these places side by side. I am inconvenienced and frustrated, but I am also here in the midst of great opportunities to spread the message of love and meet new people to inspire me on the journey.
I can’t control this hotel fiasco, but I can decide how to think about it and be open to what good might come of it. If all the meditating I spend my time at amounts to anything real and substantial, this is a golden opportunity to learn how to apply it.
Giving up control means that maybe there are reasons I can’t see from this vantage point that makes this situation perfect just as it is. Can all my talk about living by faith and not feeling materialize in this moment? Can I let go of my preferences and let things be what they are?