I used to work with a Marketing Brand Manager by the name of Dan at one of my last jobs. He is one of my very favourite people. A huge personality and one of those lucky Geminis who has endless luck. He always has money, always has a black bag from The Iconic arrive at his desk at least once a week, always has a new fancy car and would arrive at airports for a work trip and magically get upgraded to first class. Very little worries him (or he would leave all the worrying to the girls who work under him I suspect). His most commonly used phrase around the office is “it is what it is”. A line that used to infuriate me when he said it and when a much older (and slightly condescending) ex-boyfriend used to use it. Though in the last year or two, I have had a shift in my outlook on life and I too find myself using this phrase quite frequently.
It’s so simple yet so truthful. Everything actually is what it is, whether I cry about it or not.
I think my change in outlook came about, upon reading Eckhart Tolle’s ‘The Power of Now’. I tried to read it once many years ago and just kept re-reading the same pages unable to make sense of any of the words in front of me. Now, I read it once a year as a top-up and every page is like a light bulb moment. I do believe that you have to be ready for certain life lessons. I wasn’t when I first bought the book.
Tolle states that there are no good events or bad events, there are simply; events. It is only when you attach emotion to them, do they have a positive or negative connotation. I know you’re yelling at the screen now saying “what about car accidents, what about Cancer”? I get it. To us, these events are life-changing. The premise however, still stands. To the Universe, events are like ocean waves and we’re the surfers. We can either ride the wave gracefully into shore or stand flat-footed, refusing to move with the current and struggle upside down, underwater until we’re snorting out salt water and putting our exposed bits back into our swimmers.
Three years ago, I was apartment hunting for my boyfriend and I. It was a very exciting time; to have found the person you want to share your life with and both agreeing on the beachside suburb you will set-up camp in. I was constantly picking out furniture at IKEA and beautiful abstract paintings online. I had nearly everything picked out; except the actual apartment. Times had changed since I last apartment hunted. It had become a lot more competitive. I would show up to an inspection and there were nearly thirty other couples vying for the same property. I always made a point to shake hands with the agent and make sure they remembered my name and the fact that I was willing to take out someone’s knee Tonya Harding style until I got that property.
There were two apartments early on that I had my heart set on. The first had a nice little courtyard. On my vision board, I had specified that I wanted an apartment with either a balcony or courtyard because the Italian that I am, I love to host parties, dinners and BBQ’s for my family and friends. There were thirty parties applying for this property! The agent told me that our application made it into the final two but the Landlord ultimately picked a single, much older lady. I recall specifically going home, throwing myself on my bed and kicking and screaming like a child having a tantrum in the middle of the cereal aisle when mum picked All Bran over Coco Pops. I was 31.
Just a week later, we found an amazing unit with a huge living area, a lovely balcony, internal laundry, garage and very close to the cafes and shops. There were just as many applicants as the last two we had applied for, but we were blessed enough to get this one with very little effort. The Landlord is an amazing couple who sent me a personal email to thank me for decorating the apartment so nicely, they laid down new floors and they send us yummy hampers at Christmas and have just offered us a third year at the same rent. No price increase. Not to mention the awesome, rather quiet and predominantly, female neighbours. Every time something in my life doesn’t go according to my plan, I think back on this time and have a little chuckle. No, we didn’t get the property we had set our sights on. We got an even better one. Much, much better.
Perhaps when something fails. It’s not failure at all. Just a mere detour on the way to an even more suitable destination.
In his hugely successful book, ‘The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success’, Deepak Chopra talks about the Law of Least Effort. How struggling against what is, can take you further from where you are meant to be.
“When you struggle against this moment, you’re actually struggling against the entire universe. Instead you can make the decision that today you will not struggle against the whole universe by struggling against this moment.
You accept things as they are, not as you wish they were in this moment.
When you feel frustrated or upset by a person or a situation, remember that you are not reacting to the person or the situation, but to your feelings about the person or situation.
When you become defensive, blame others, and do not accept and surrender to the moment, your life meets resistance. You don’t want to stand rigid like a tall oak that cracks and collapses in the storm. Instead, you want to be flexible, like a reed that bends with the storm and survives”.
I just love that last analogy of the oak versus the reed. I’m very visual and I like to picture something to aspire to. Only now I’ve evolved the reed into the blow-up dudes you see in front of car yards. Not only do they bend with the storm, they look like they’re having a little bit of a party.
Don’t mistake the word ‘surrender’ as letting people dominate you. Surrender means only acceptance of what is. You can still have an entire plan of what goals you wish to achieve, but it simply means that some factors which are entirely out of your control, will arise to change some of your plans on your way to your goal. Don’t waste effort wishing it was another way. Assess the situation as it is without attaching emotion to it, then reconfigure your plan to suit the status quo.
It makes me wonder if my friend Dan has Gemini luck, or if he is just so able to adapt to change that the universe constantly conspires in his favour.
This week, two of my best friends had major events arise that were not in their plan. For one, it is OK, he had a plan B ready to go which may even work out better for him in the long run. For the other, something quite heartbreaking happened. Her wonderful business is no more, through no fault of her own but through a very complicated legal situation. It was an amazing, creative and successful business. It was all she had known for a very long time and my heart really bleeds for her.
Sometimes it is quite hard not to attach emotion to such situations. I do hope that for my beautiful friend, and for any of you going through a new and daunting circumstance, that the closing of a door opens a window to a truly beautiful destination.
May you all ride the wave of life as majestically as Mick Fanning. And if a shark jumps up at you, punch that sucker straight in the kisser!
Note: If you’re looking for some extra inspiration in being more flexible in life, I recommend:
‘How to stop worrying and start living’ by Dale Carnegie
‘The power of now’ by Eckhart Tolle
‘The seven spiritual laws of success’ by Deepak Chopra