After a long year I find myself reverting to one of my favourite enlightenment / empowerment) intentions, flow, or rather the lack there-of. Around me people are tired, overwhelmed and just done with the year. I feel it myself and it has started me thinking about how I experience life (a consistent theme of mine that normally unearths interesting revelations). The question I find myself asking is why are we all so stressed and overwhelmed? What are we doing ‘wrong’ ? There I sit, doing my best to manage my life, trying to work out all the possible outcomes, obsessing about which will be best for me, which worst and trying to be prepared for anything at any time, normal right ? We prize people who can ‘make things happen’, people who don’t sit back and just accept their fate, but create it. What no-one mentioned is how exhausting it is to control every aspect of life and then, just when it all seems to be working according to ‘the plan’, life throws the ever predictable curve ball.

Looking more closely at this pattern of supreme control I was struck by the sheer futility of it all. There is only so much I can do and all the extra worrying that I put in so very rarely affects the outcome of an event. Actually, now that I come to think of it, those days where I let go and relax seem to be the days that work better. It is almost as if I have the entire thing the wrong way round – as if my job is not to ‘make’ things happen but instead to set things in motion and then go with the flow. All that extra energy and stress I obsessively throw at ‘creating’ just seems to get in the way. I miss things as they don’t ‘fit’ what I am expecting or needing to create. It is almost as if I need to have some faith. And there it was, the word that was missing, faith.

Faith is not a word that sits well in my landscape. I link it to serious religious types and religion is something I walked away from a long time ago. Yet, the more I thought about it the more exhausting this faithless life became, exhausting and futile. The idea of letting go and letting someone or something else take the load became more and more appealing. I could imagine myself living with faith – no longer having to be in control of every moment of every day, trusting that the universe was on my side, trusting that events that as a human I judge to be awful (and so actively avoid) are actually there for a reason and will turn out ok. The more I thought about it (and watched my fellow faithless struggle on) the more I saw how the faithless spend their lives trying to control every moment, caught in an endless struggle to avoid what we judge to be suffering and create what we judge to be awesome and happy. We take on the entire load of creating our lives, worrying about everything thing all the time, never putting the load down or trusting anything or anyone to assist us. The end result ? Extreme stress and finally emotional or physical breakdown.

I am not advocating sitting back and letting the universe do everything! No, rather I think there is a balance to be found, similar to the balance I found in diving. To complete a dive there needed to be a time for planning and thought and then a time where you put that down and just dived, trusting that you could handle whatever came up and as importantly, accepting the consequences without judgment. To dive well you need to be able to live in the present and not be obsessed with the past or stressing about a future that may never happen. Underwater was a place of complete freedom and amazingly total empowerment, which is really bizarre considering that cave diving is one of the most dangerous environments in the world where you have no control of anything other than yourself.

Is that the lesson ? That we spend so much time trying to control everything outside of ourselves we never do the work that allows us to feel in control of ourselves and so able to manage anything ?

What would happen if I could just let go and allow the universe to take some of the load ? What would happen if I stopped insisting that the answers in my head were the only answers and became open to what was in my present ?