We all know that our life can change on the dime. And mine did a couple of days ago. Without going into the details, I want to mention my lessons from the experience. And there are several important ones.
The first lesson is the impermanence of life as we know it. You can be having a perfect day, and your world can change. It can come from a sudden cancer diagnosis, or a reoccurrence of your cancer when you thought you were safe. Or the routine colonoscopy that finds colon cancer. Or a variety of others things. It is in those times that our life as we knew it becomes something very different. If we resist the reality of our new world, we fail to realize its benefits. We can’t hold onto what we had. If we accept our new reality, we can move with it. If we try to resist what is happening, we not only fail to accept the reality of what we have, we lose what we had.
Our lessons about the impermanence of life can come from other things, such as a meeting. I had such a meeting years ago, a meeting in which I was told I was fired. It wasn’t “fair,” but it happened. That meeting changed the course of my career. A few months past that event, I realized I had a better future ahead of me, but I had to let go of the past to experience it. It is impossible to grasp what is new and experience its blessings if we refuse to let go of what has passed.
The second lesson is that even when we are focused on living and enjoying every day, we miss so much. When we look back on our lives we realize our children have grown up, and we can’t remember where the years went. Then our grandchildren come and we experience all the joys we failed to know we had time for with our children. If we could only have slowed down in those earlier years. But that isn’t usually how life is. We spend so much of our productive years chasing the golden egg, not being able to truly enjoy the journey. By the time that most people can afford to slow down, their loved ones are busy working and raising their families, without time to spare. The cycle goes on.
The third lesson is about control. We can only control a few things, although many of us spend a lot of time trying to control others and our circumstances. At some point, if we are paying attention, we realize that the only thing we can control is our self and our own behavior. When we learn to “stay in our own lane,” that so many thing fall in the category of “not my pig, not my farm,” and let go of trying to control others, we can enjoy the journey more. If we spend more time improving ourselves and letting others be who they are, we will be amazed at the difference it makes in our lives.
The reality of the adage, “Life is what happens when we are making other plans,” is never more true that when an event interrupts life as we know it. We can fail to realize its meaning, or search for the lessons it is sent to teach us.