I had the pleasure of catching up with a good friend yesterday evening, thank G-d. He had been to a four-day silent retreat and was relating his experiences, which were powerful. Afterwards, I was reflecting on my own life, and the message for me in the events of the past six months.
This is a practice I do so constantly, it’s almost a worldview rather than a “practice”. I understand that every event I experience, every circumstance I encounter, is handcrafted by The Master. There’s a reason for what happens; nothing is left to “chance”. (In another post: how this can be true while we also have free will.) So I find it helpful to ask, “What can I learn from this event? What’s the message?”
(I think this can be a helpful practice, even if you don’t believe in G-d or karma or “things are drawn to you by the energy you send out”. I think we can gain insight from imagining: if events were unfolding according to some purpose, what could I learn from them?)
Anyway, in the past six months, as I have pondered various options for my time and energy and livelihood, I’ve noticed a pattern: some interesting possibility falls unexpectedly into my lap, gets postponed a time or two, and then vanishes. Here are four quick examples:
(1) A friend of mine is working on a software development team where they suddenly need someone with my skill set. I interview with them, and it looks good. Then they push back the timeframe. And push it again. And again. (2) A reknowned rabbi is doing a presentation at a bookstore and, in a complete tangent to his main topic, he speaks of a filmmaker and an interesting project. A few days later, when I speak to the rabbi individually, he proposes to set up a meeting introducing me to the filmmaker– perhaps there will be a writing opportunity for me. We try several times to set up the meeting, but due to travel schedules, it always falls through. (3) In the most unlikely setting, with someone I’ve known for years but who is as far removed from the entertainment business as you can get, I find myself explaining an idea for a television show I’d like to host. In a surreal moment, I hear myself concluding, “I mention this in case you know someone who knows someone who knows Oprah.” The stunning response: “Actually, I have a childhood friend on Oprah’s team that I just saw last weekend; I’ll email him for you.” Uncharacteristically, I have to remind the responder to send the email, and equally uncharacteristically, she never hears back from her childhood friend. (4) Out of the blue, a former colleague calls about a job opportunity with his company. We set up an interview, which is postponed. And postponed again. And then the interview occurs in a most unexpected manner, with unexpectedly disappointing results.
So over the course of a few weeks, I pondered. Perhaps the message here was: while G-d can suddenly make an incredible opportunity appear out of thin air, maybe I need to work harder to make something of those opportunities afterwards. But that didn’t really fit because I actually was working quite hard in response to these good fortunes. Then I thought: perhaps I need to have more of a vision of what I want to do, and commit to that vision, before G-d will make it manifest completely– maybe things are coming and going because I’m wavering in what I want to do. But that didn’t feel quite right, either.
So last night, I had an epiphany. My friend spoke of his experiences of letting go at this retreat, and after he did so, amazing things happened. I think this was in my mind (and not accidentally!) when I realized: G-d is telling me not to grasp too tightly to the opportunities that appear suddenly. Don’t try to figure out The Master’s plan and think “Aha! This is what’s going to work” and cling tightly to that idea. That’s a fear-based response.
Rather, I think The Master wants me to trust. Trust that one way or another, things will work out; The Master will provide a way. When things fall from the sky into my lap, be grateful, be mindful, be responsive… but don’t get too attached. Don’t worry if they don’t pan out, and don’t struggle too hard to make them work if they’re not coming together. Just do my part, and let it go. And don’t let it bother me that I don’t see “the answer”. Easy come, easy go.
Because even though I do trust that things will work out in the long term, I find myself grabbing on to these gifts with too much relief. And I see that I would do better to handle the arising moment as peacefully and gratefully as possible. A light grasp, an easy touch.
I think that’s the message, and I’m excited about the prospect of improving my ability to practice that trust moment by moment.
And last night, another opportunity may have dropped into my lap, so it looks like I’ll have another good chance to practice. Just what I needed. :>
So, Gentle Reader, what’s your take on the events of your life? Random? Orchestrated? Occasional miracles? Do you think G-d speaks to you through the experiences you encounter as the day unfolds?
May your day be sweet, and may the events bring you joy, however you understand them.