Everything happens at precisely the right moment in the right way, every day, everywhere, and without exception.
Living in past regret or worrying about what tomorrow will bring is the most useless of all emotional feelings. You cannot control or change either one. It’s impossible. Yet so many of us waste precious time wishing for a different past and hoping for a better future. How is it that we can spend 20, 30 or more years on these feelings?
We do it because there is an unconscious notion that if we accept what is, then we will lose control and/or miss something. Our Ego tells us that we can control what happened and what may happen in the future.
I have to laugh at myself and others for this wild notion. I think of all the energy that I and most of us spend in this mindset, and I laugh because humans are so interestingly crazy. What on earth made us think that THINKING about past and future could fix it.
While I agree there are areas that we can learn from and prepare for, our thinking minds believe that we can change it or control it. Our thinking is what gets us in the most trouble.
Does a tree concern itself with when or how the leaves will fall from its branches?
Can you imagine a tree fretting over the weather and trying to control when their leaves turn and fall? It is silly, isn’t it?
Trees fretting about their leaves is no different than what we humans do. We spend endless hours worrying about what may be or not be for ourselves, not to mention the unlimited amounts of time and energy, worrying about how it affects someone else’s life or what others think about our experience.
I do not want to diminish the feelings we have for our family, friends, and community members when encountering difficulties in life. However, I have to ask, with all the worry and conversation, does it change anything in their or your life?
If your discussions are with the intent to create a solution or a plan to assist, I can agree, there is value in that. But gossiping about it or worrying about what they are going through with no intentional intervention or action merely feeds something inside of you—that is, Ego.
But wait, you say! Sharing juicy gossip is a natural, healthy, and socially acceptable behavior. I will argue that just because society says its healthy, does not make it useful. Gossiping, comparing, judging, moralizing are all forms of deflection. We are taking the focus off ourselves and placing it onto another, hence allowing Ego to take over and deflect what we may actually be experiencing.
We believe that we are our feelings. When in truth, we are not. We cannot BE our feelings because they are fleeting and constantly changing. Slowing down and being in the moment is where we will find out the truth of who you really are.
The only reality is what is Now. If you are feeling angry, then you are mad. If you sat in stillness with it, allow it, and then release, it no longer owns you. You recognize the emotion of fear, in this example, as a fleeting thought, not the definition of who you are. The more you become aware and acknowledge your feelings, reactions, and deflections are temporary, the time between the intense feelings will decrease. What might typically stay with you for hours, days, weeks, or even years will shorten. And perhaps, you will finally realize you are not your emotions. You are that which is That. Not your thinking but your being.
Regret, worry, anger, anxiety, stress, frustration all come from an egoic definition of who we think we are. Or simply put your thinking mind.
Let’s refer back to the tree. If October 15th is the anticipated day that its leaves should fall, there is a sense of worry and anxiety if the weather is not aligning with its expectations. Fear of not being able to shed its leaves escalates right up to October 15th. Perhaps the weather has been warmer than usual, and by October 1st, the tree just knows it’s going to miss the mark. It becomes angry every time the sun shines, and the warm wind gently blows. The trees that have no expectations are reveling in the extended sunny days and enjoying the extra sunlight and warmth.
Meanwhile, the tree that has defined success as shedding its leaves on or by October 15th is angry every day the sun shines. In this analogy, what if October 16th brings a cold snap and the leave fall right then? That worrying, angry, frustrated tree would regret having wasted a month of joy in the sun.
Doesn’t this analogy kind of make the way we worry about tomorrow seem just a little silly? We are no different. We worry about the weather, finances, relationships, accomplishments all the while, not enjoying what’s right in front of us. We miss the sun and warmth that’s happening right now.
When I was on the Camino (500 miles walk across Spain), there was no internet access. Watching weather and temperature was something that was either word of mouth or direct experience.
I remember, one day, we were informed there would be a huge rainstorm. I spent that day expecting rain and worrying about getting cold and wet. Sadly, I did not pay attention to what was around me. I merely focused on getting to the next stop as quickly as possible to avoid getting wet and cold. Eight hours into the day, the rain never showed. Arriving at the hostel that evening, brought a bit of regret that I had not enjoyed the day. The rain did come, but not until we were already safely tucked in for the night. Had I just planned for it, by making sure my rain gear was close at hand, I would have enjoyed the day without regret and worry. Needless to say, I accepted this huge lesson and dismissed any other weather warnings. For the rest of the trip, whenever I heard lousy weather was possible, I simply planned well by having rain gear handy. It’s not like I would have stayed in for the day anyway, because we had to walk every day to meet our deadline. Had I known and accepted this earlier, I would have had a completely different experience that day.
Like another person’s actions and reactions, the tree or a rainstorm, you are not in control. Allowing fear to rule you, will bring on nothing but regret and worry.
Written by; Wendie Kause,