Over the last few years, I’ve read a lot of rants about how the world is doomed. We’re in a recession, and people are scared. All around are voices screaming that our country is falling to pieces, that publishing is *over*, that our politicians are destroying us, that we’ll never recover.
I don’t believe any of those things. But in the middle of it all, I so appreciate the quiet voices of hope that I encounter, especially on the internet.
Over a year ago when we moved into our house, I knew some things in my life needed to change. They’d been needing to change for a while, but I’d been ignoring the quiet voices inside me that told me so. But at that point, I’d wound myself into such a ball of stress over the last few years that my body couldn’t take it anymore. In truth, my spirit couldn’t take it either.
So last August I set about the process of letting go. Over a year, I backed out of a lot of my obligations. I stopped doing so much. I put the work I could control at the center of my world–work on the writing in front of me, on my marriage, on church things, on my home, on me. And I let the rest go.
This was hard. The scared little girl in me wants to be in control of everything. She believes that if she doesn’t have control over every aspect of her life, it’s all going to fall to pieces any minute now. I’d been spending way too much time listening to her. Because, in truth, I can’t control most of the aspects of my life. I have to be satisfied with the pieces I have in front of me, and trust that the rest will take care of themselves.
Over a year later, I feel centered in that trust. I still work hard, but I concentrate on the work I have to do today, and not on any other work. I don’t feel stressed or scared anymore. I don’t know how anything is going to turn out in my life, but I’ve discovered that knowing those things isn’t what I needed. What I needed was to let go of the obsession with knowing. I do what I can, and I have the faith that other things will work out.
But more than that, I have the faith that if they don’t, I can still be happy. Because whatever might come, the power to be happy is something that I do have in front of me–it’s a gift I can give to myself every day. It’s not about pasting on a smile and muscling through. It’s about letting go of my need for control over the future–over other people, over my industry, over my health–and focusing on what I have right now. What I have right now, as it turns out, is exactly the life that I wanted. I’ve learned that doing less and worrying less let me love that life, rather than being so obsessed with keeping it that it passes me by.