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—The Simple Sophisticate, episode #85
Many times here on the blog I have compared the struggle a butterfly must traverse through to the journey we embark on when we seek the life of our dreams.(See here, here and here). And as important as it is to understand that there will be a struggle to break free from a cocoon that has comforted us and kept us safe, there is a purpose for the cocoon.
Just as pasta must be cooked for a particular amount of time to offer the ideal al dente taste to pair perfectly with the sauce that has been made, or just as it is best for the health of a newborn to remain in the womb of its mother the full length of the gestation period, timing is important. Timing makes a difference.
If you allow a steak to remain on the grill for merely two minutes more it can go from medium-rare to medium, add two minutes more, medium-well. But you must at least cook it for at least four minutes on each side to have a steak worth eating at all.
Perhaps I am hungry as I write this as my analogies are mainly inspired by the kitchen, but the point is, everything has a timing that works best for it to produce its desired results, and each of these things, al dente pasta, a perfectly cooked steak, the maturation of a butterfly, a healthy newborn infant, will be different according to its needs.
Each of us is unique in this way as we were born into unique circumstances, experienced first-hand a childhood that is unique to us whether we had siblings or not because the context (what was going on in the world and the lives of our parents differed unless we were twins) and our own personalities, innate abilities and personas filtered each experience in a unique way.
And as such, we each have different lessons to learn to reach the full potential that we have the opportunity to attain should we seek this path in our lives. Perhaps you are religious or perhaps you are not religious at all, regardless, life has lessons it wants to teach you to help you along the road, but it is up to each of us to recognize when we don’t know something and need to stay in the “school of life” and learn the lesson instead of becoming frustrated and claiming life isn’t fair.
In a post shared by author Elizabeth Gilbert on her Facebook page last year, she notes an incident that prompted her to change a trip she had to India. A health issue arose and instead of respected what her body wanted, she tried to initially make the trip work until she realized it wouldn’t be possible. Stating “Life has taught me to trust in the timing of things. Nothing just happens. Events, signs, portents (and even problems) occur when they need to occur”, she reminds us that as much as we want certain things to happen or certain events to hurry-up and materialize, we need to be more patient, more understanding.
Whether you call it fate, destiny or maybe it’s life’s way of saying, the student hasn’t heeded the warnings given previously and until they do, the lesson will be given, the take-away is sometimes life has better plans than we have for ourselves if we would just trust it. Sometimes the training you have done in college and in your first career is not to set you up for the career you had imagined, but for a career that wasn’t even an option when you were in high school. However, when the job presents itself 15 or 25 years later you realize, aha, that was why I had to be challenged. That was why I needed to know these skills that at the time didn’t seem necessary.
Tiny Buddha shared a reassuring quote on just this topic,
“Every bad experience, painful relationship, and compromise you’ve ever made in good conscience will somehow transform into a beautiful inner reservoir of spiritual gifts and blessings.”
Trusting the timing of our lives is hard because while we may look up to another individual and try to pattern our lives after them as they are living the life we are inspired by, we each come from unique circumstances as I mentioned above, and need to learn specific lessons to reach our final destination. So how does one successfully, trust the timing of their life and not fight it?
Having goals is a brilliant idea, and striving for them each day with small steps is the best plan, but realize the end date that you are expecting to arrive at the goal-line may need to be flexible. You don’t know what you don’t know, so you won’t know the lessons you need to learn until they are presented. And how long it will take to learn these lessons will depend upon you. Which leads me to #2.
2. Accept the lessons. Don’t try to avoid them.
The first time you make a mistake is forgivable. How could you have known, right? But when you continue to make the same mistake again and again and again, perhaps life is trying to teach you a lesson that you are refusing to absorb. Do you keep dating the same type of person and it never works out? Do you continue to communicate in a manner that is riddled with emotion rather than calm thoughtful rational thoughts and never seem to feel that you are being heard or respected? Perhaps a change of approach is needed. Learn the lesson.
I assure you, when you do, when you get to the end of the lesson, you will have an aha moment. I will also share that while you are in the middle of learning the lesson, you may not realize it. Keep moving through it by following #3.
The first episode of this year dealt entirely with the concept of trust: how to build it, what exactly trust is, etc. And the most important piece to building trust with others is to learn how to trust yourself. How do you begin to trust yourself? It may sound simple and common sensical, but I am always amazed by how many people don’t do this: get to know yourself. In a three-part series more than three years ago, I outlined exactly how to get to know yourself and in this post, dove into the benefits of doing so. When you reach the pinnacle of understanding who you are, what makes you tick, what can get under your skin and why and what you need and where you can be flexible in life, decisions become much easier to make. This job or that job. That house or this apartment. Continue dating this person or move on. You get the idea. When we don’t know ourselves, we can’t trust ourselves and therefore, we can’t be sure about the lessons we need to learn. This will affect the timing of our life.
4. Enjoy your own company.
When you are comfortable with time to yourself, you don’t make decisions that avoid being alone. While often you sincerely want to do what you say yes to, but if you are uncomfortable being alone from time to time, you will say yes and potentially keep making mistakes that disrupt the timing of your life. Again, it comes back to getting to know yourself so that the decisions, when they need to be made, are easier to make.
5. Be willing to persevere.
Simply because you were denied in your first attempt something that you are aching for: the ability to travel abroad, to have children, to own a house, to attain a particular job, to find the love of your life, etc. doesn’t necessarily mean life is denying you that path. The question rather is, what is it you truly desire? Is the desire coming from you or society? If the desire is coming from within you, if you cannot squash it and it keeps being at the forefront of your mind, listen to this. Perhaps the universe, or God, whatever you call divine intervention in your life, is saying, you’re not ready. But saying “you’re not ready” doesn’t mean denial. What it means is you haven’t learned the necessary lessons to either appreciate or make the most of the opportunity that will come when you are actually ready.
In this instance, look to #6.
6. Be honest with yourself.
Sometimes it can be uncomfortable to admit where we need to improve. Perhaps we have trust issues. Perhaps we don’t know how to communicate effectively or lovingly. Perhaps we don’t know how to balance our budget. In each of these instances, simply getting to this realization is a huge step.
When we are honest about what we don’t know how to do in order to be successful in the pursuit of our goals, we can then go about finding the help and assistance we need to become the person we need to be to have the life we desire. What does that look like? Take a class on budget management, schedule an appointment with a counselor or life coach, or begin to change daily habits that have not yielded the results you seek (eating, exercising, spending, gossiping, etc.). And then, let go.
7. Become comfortable with unknowns.
Okay, so now you’ve been honest with yourself, gotten to know yourself, and learned the power of perseverance. Now what? In a way, I am going to circle back to #1. Be patient. Again, a manual was not given to your parents on the day you were born telling them what the future had in store for you so that they might adequately prepare you for what lay ahead. Nope. You are unique, you have your own journey, but you must begin to live. Be present each day. Savor it. Dance with it and yes, see your journey as a treasure hunt. Learn the lessons when they are presented to you along the way, indulge in the victories and successes as you traverse forward, no matter how winding it may seem to be. You’ll get there. Technically, you are already there because you are today exactly where you need to be to get to where you want to go tomorrow so long as you heed these seven steps.
Trusting the timing of our lives is not an easy thing to ask especially depending upon where you currently are in your life. Hopefully, today’s post/episode offered some reassurance. And if my life experiences so far are of any consolation, I am trusting life now more than I ever have. As I said earlier this year, I had wanted to move to Bend more than nine years ago, but the timing in many different arenas wasn’t right (housing marketing, my teaching expertise, etc). I tried two years ago to acquire a teaching job and it didn’t pan out. Upon reflection, that attempt fine-tuned me for my successful attempt that helped me arrive in Bend almost seven months ago. Embedded in that experience is yet another life lesson, there is no such thing as failure if you learn from it. But that is my point.
Every life experience is offering you fuel, knowledge, experience of which you can use later to be successful at attaining what you seek.
In late December of this past year, I was making my regular weekly walk along the Deschutes River with my dogs. The afternoon sun was gradually sinking and the glisten of the sunlight danced upon the running water. As I looked out upon the river, I saw soaring up-stream, a blue heron. Its speed lessened by the gentle breeze, but it still proceeded upward, and as it did, a second heron eventually came flying in from the far side of the river heading the same direction. Their speed was synchronized seemingly instantaneously upon finding each other as they flew off out of sight around the river’s bend.
In many ways, we each are one of these blue herons. We must travel the direction in which speaks to us, and at times we may have to soar alone, but the beauty is we get to soar. Sometimes we will have to go against the wind and sometimes the wind will be at our backs, but we only get further along our journey if we soar forward. We will meet the people and the occurrences that are meant to be in our lives along this journey, but we must continue along our unique journey. Trust your timing. Your daily life will thank you as you will be more at peace and your future life will be far more amazing than you could ever have imagined.
~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~M.L. Longworth cozy mysteries (five in the series currently)
~set in the south of France