We must learn to live comfortably between effort and surrender."
One morning I awoke with these two clear and distinct ideas in my head. And then they merged gracefully into this nugget. So I decided to break it down to see what I could learn.
What can we really control?
Our phones and computers typically behave as expected. Until Google Chrome hangs or an app crashes over and over again. We turn on the faucet marked “H” and water flows out and warms up after a few seconds. Until the day it doesn’t. And we discover our water heater needs replacing. The weather pays us no mind at all, regardless of the forecast. Traffic during our commute ebbs and flows without any obvious pattern… or concern for how late to work we are.
Human interactions provide perhaps the greatest opportunity to see how little control we have over outcomes.
Years ago I was in a new relationship. My inner romantic surfaced one afternoon and in an attempt to be charming I gathered a bouquet of local wildflowers for my date on the way to her house. When I arrived and presented them to her at the front door, she looked surprised, then awkward, and said “Thanks, but I don’t believe in cut flowers. I think they should be left in the ground for everyone to enjoy. I do love potted plants, though!”
Um… ok then. So much for good intentions! And so much for our relationship, which ended shortly thereafter.