It’s Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK. And, as if on cue, it’s an overcast Sunday here in Wales with more of the same predicted tomorrow. If there’s one thing you can count on is the weather being unpredictable, especially when there’s a public holiday.
Most weekends when I wander to the beach, I’ll see families quickly come up with a Plan B when they realise they didn’t check the tide before heading out. Kids end up playing on the promenade whilst parents grab a cup of coffee, or they bundle back up into the car, disappointed, to go elsewhere.
It always amazes me how the kids who stay are not deterred by the lack of beach. They find patches of sand, whipped up by the wind, and make sandcastles on concrete. They squeal in delight if they get hit by spray from the high tide waves. They still fly kites and kick around beach balls. Their day of fun doesn’t end because of one oversight.
Even the best-laid plans never go exactly as you imagine. We just don’t have that kind of control over the Universe.
Really, we don’t have control over anything apart from ourselves.
So there’s a choice to be made when things go awry.
Go with the flow or try to dictate how everything should be.
And once you’ve entered into the territory of ‘should’, you know you’re on shaky ground. As Byron Katie says: “When you argue with reality, you lose, but only 100 percent of the time.”
Learning to let go of control isn’t easy. Having our thoughts crushed about what ‘should be’ isn’t easy either. It brings up resistance. But it can also be a great teacher.
When it comes to family days out, I’m the one who does the planning.
I have big expectations when it comes to hiking. I find routes and maps, and I always believe that I’ll be able to follow them (my optimism runs at full volume, always). I don’t think there has been one occasion when I haven’t managed to take a detour or get lost completely.
I would stress over my thinking that everything should be perfect. I should know where to go. I should know what I’m doing.
The reality is often I have no idea where I’m going and I really don’t know what I’m doing.
I’ve had far better experiences in recent years when I’ve let go of trying to control the impossible (which, in this case, is me staying true to a map). We’ve ended up in some strange places but we’ve always made it back. We’ve had adventures that weren’t signposted.
When I make plans these days, I consider them made in pencil, not ink.
Nothing is guaranteed.
Nothing ever plays out exactly as you think it will.
There’s far less stress when you treat plans or goals as possibilities, ones that can morph into something or nothing. Life unfolds in front of you when you just let it do exactly what it’s going to do… and you get to enjoy the ride (or the hike!).
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