Friday, September 16, 2011

Thoughts on goals. And having them. Or not.

As I go through this transitional stage in my life I've been thinking, obviously, a lot.

Its become clear to me that one of the big issues that lead me to having such an unhappy life previously was that I spent years chasing a dream. My ex and I had a clear goal between the two of us of the type of life that we wanted -- right down to the jobs we'd have and the house we'd live in.

But you know how the old saying goes, "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans."

Its clear to me now where we went wrong, or at least where I did. I had become so intent on working to make this plan reality that I completely lost sight of the "here and now". I forgot to enjoy the current moment. I missed out on so much, and lost so much along the way, including the relationship I was in. We both had our eyes so set on the prize that we forgot that we needed to stay in touch with each other. Because without that, what good is the end goal, anyway?

So yeah. That was my life and it isn't anymore. The only good that does me now is that I have the knowledge to understand that goals can really just be a distraction. You can get so set in what it is you think you should be doing that you miss what God really is blessing you with in your life.

So I set out on this new phase of my life with new intentions. To not have goals.

I know. Sounds slackerish, right? That's what I originally thought.

I read a post by Leo Babauta (who writes Zen Habits) a few months back about letting go of the illusion of control. When I read it I initially thought, "My God that's extreme!" I mean, to not have any expectations or control over ANYTHING?

Over the weeks that followed, however, "control" and letting go of it became a recurring theme in my life. It became very clear to me that someone was trying to tell me something here. It was as literal as if I'd been handed a sheet of paper with big block letters on it.

"You are not in charge here."

And then? Well, have you ever had your young child say something to you that just chills you to your bones? Makes you look at them in awe and wonder if maybe their child-like innocence allows them a connection with the supernatural that adults long ago lost?

Because weeks after thinking I'd come to the conclusion that I do not have to have control over my life and that I was well on my way to being happier because of it, my four-year-old chubby cheeked cherub of a boy piped up from the backseat on a recent trip to the zoo.

"Mom," he began, playing with the brim of the Brewer's hat in his lap. "Do you know that God's in control?"

I rearranged the rear-view mirror to look at his face. "What's that bud?" Will has a bit of a speech impediment, and the word "control" could have easily been interpreted as several different things.

"CONTROL," he said impatiently, waiting for his dense mother to get it. "God's in control. Of everything. Not you. Not Daddy. Like, you know, in Wii. With a controller. But he doesn't have a controller he has it in his mind."

I asked him where he'd heard that. He replied with a shrug, "In my brain. I just know."

Wow. Well OK then.

And today, almost a week later I see that I needed to hear that. While I understand the concept behind living a life without expectations and the importance of enjoying the present, I haven't yet incorporated it into my own life. Or I had started to but wasn't actually "there" yet. Does that make sense?

I was struggling with control. Again.

And it was writing this post - starting to tell that story about what Will had said from the backseat that really got me to "get it".

If it doesn't stick now? I'm gonna get me one of these and you can just hit me with it.