Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Embrace the Present, Embrace Possibility

Worrying about the future is something I am way too much of an expert at. Aren’t we all these days? Life has been so full of turmoil with terrible news about war and terrorism and children being kidnapped and other horror stories on the nightly news, not to mention worries about budget cuts and the normal personal dramas of everyday life.

I got some advice on this the other day: Embrace uncertainty. (Personally, this advice sounds impossible to me but there’s a logic in it worth exploring.) Everything in life is uncertain. Security, as Helen Keller liked to say, is an illusion. We could be hit by a bus in freak accident tomorrow. We can plan our lives down to the nth degree and lose it all in an earthquake. We just don’t have that much control! And yet so many of us, myself included, spend hours every day trying to plan and control what happens next.

There’s a flower called Mimulus that likes to live in precarious places overhanging running water. Other flowers choose protected areas surrounded by grass and trees or prefer to be in wide open grassy fields but not Mimulus. It lives life on the edge and when it’s time to reproduce it just casts its seeds into the water below where they are carried down the stream and planted wherever they end up. Can you imagine what it would be like to trust life so much? To just let go and believe you’ll wind up where you need to be?

Anxiety comes from fear about the future. We want the future to be a certain way and then fear that it won’t be. We try to convince ourselves that we can make things work out the way we intend and spend hours trying to imagine and prepare for any possibility that would interfere with our idea of how things “have” to go. And yet underneath we KNOW we can’t control every variable so, because we get so invested in how we want things to be, we get anxious and afraid.

I think the best way to be prepared for the future is to understand that even the worst case scenario can open doors for the best. We have to embrace everything that happens in the present as an opportunity.

This blog entry was excerpted from The Spiritual Journey of Family Caregiving. Available now from


Ann said...

What she says is soooo true! When you worry too much about things that are NOT in your control, you impede the flow of change. Change can be good or bad. It is what it is.

Sheryl Karas said...

Thanks for your comment, I appreciate it.