A friend of mine and I were talking the other day and he said, “It seems like in relationships, each party tries to control the other. The trick to life is finding a way to compromise. That way, both people remain free individuals, sharing a life.” It struck me that this is the way most of us go about living our lives. We try to control each other’s behavior, we try to control our own behavior, we try to control our jobs, kids- simply put, we try to control everything in our lives. The more we try to “control,” the more everything seems out of control.
Truth is, the entire idea of control is an illusion. It is an illusion that we allow ourselves in order to feel safe. What we tell ourselves is, as long as we are in control of what happens, we can make things turn out the way we want. This is not the way life happens though. Too often, we become rigid in our thinking, controlling everything around us and then out of the blue, something huge and unexpected happens and throws us into a tailspin. We then become scared, angry, aggressive and depressed and wonder why we can’t “control” our emotions too.
I’m going to use an analogy here to help explain a different concept- one that seems crazy, but it actually works. Let’s picture a sunny day in the Bahamas. It’s beautiful outside; birds are flying overhead and there are palm trees everywhere. This is likening to our life when things are going right. Then, out of the Atlantic Ocean comes a hurricane (this is that huge, unexpected event that throws us into a tailspin). The winds are outrageous! Have you ever paid attention to how the palm tree just bends as the storm pushes through? What if the tree didn’t bend? If it were inflexible, rigid? What if the tree tried to “control” the storm and tell the winds to stop? Right. The tree would break. The tree wouldn’t win out against the winds of the hurricane. However, by bending and allowing what comes to happen and go with the flow of the winds, the tree is able to withstand the storm. And when the storm has passed, the tree becomes upright again. A little bruised, a little scathed, but not broken.
If we could take this lesson from a tree and learn to let go of our attachment to the outcome of things that happen in our lives, go with the flow; let things come as they may and bend a little, we too might come out a little bruised, a little scathed, but not broken.