This has been what I’ve been learning over the past couple of days. I have never been one to be passive, to let things happen instead of making them happen, to let go of control of things. I have been taught that if you wan't something done, you must do it yourself. Of course, there are so many things in life you can’t control, no matter how much you want something or how hard you work to get it.
This lesson was brought to me by a small mouse. I've never had a mouse encounter in my home, how did this mouse manage to make its debut, is still a mystery. I believe it was a gift to reflect something within myself. I didn't want to kill it but I did want to get rid of it. So I placed those humane traps for the mouse. This little small creature caused so much chaos of fear and anxiety within me, I began to become sick. I realized it wasn't the mouse causing this, it was the lack of control. I wanted the mouse to come out and get caught in the trap, so I can then dispose of it. But, that is not how life works. Life will force you to manage your fears and anxiety when you are out of control by using compassion for yourself and others. Compassion loosens the grip of the illusion of that which you think you can control.
Leo Babauta wrote in his article for zen habits some ways to allow things to happen.
This control we think we have over our lives and our destinies … it’s an illusion. As the guy who had his life turned upside down by a heart attack, the woman who lost her father to death and had to drop everything, the family who lost their home to a hurricane, the entrepreneur that was doing well until the economy collapsed and no one was spending, the hard-working employee who was laid off when the economy tanked, the cyclist who was hit by a car, the car that skid because someone ran onto the road who had been obscured, the mom whose son has autism despite her doing everything right during pregnancy … it happens every day, where we think we’re in control but we’re really not. Do we control all the people around us who affect our lives so intimately? Do we control the overwhelming power of nature? There’s so much out of our control that what we think is control is really an illusion.
To control your cow, give it a bigger pasture. This is a great quote from Zen Master Suzuki Roshi, talking about controlling your mind. I see the cow and her pasture as a form of allowing things to happen — instead of tightly controlling something, you’re opening up, giving it more room, a bigger pasture. The cow will be happier, will roam around, will do as she pleases, and yet your needs will also be met. The same is true of anything else — stepping back and allowing things to happen means things will take care of themselves, and your needs will also be met. And you’ve done no work.
You have less stress, less to worry about. Imagine allowing things to happen naturally, and things work out, and all you did was smile and watch. You don’t have to worry about shaping things, about controlling something that doesn’t want to be controlled. You don’t have to push, and fix leaks, and put out fires. You just let things work on their own. They happen.
Things will surprise you. Let’s say you’re allowing something to happen. You might want it to go a certain way, to a certain outcome. That’s your goal. But what if you let go of this idea? What if you say, “I don’t know what will happen.” (Btw, you really don’t.) What if you say, “Let’s see what happens.” Then things will happen, but not the way you planned. The outcome might be completely different than what you’d hoped for. But it can still be great, just different. It might even be wonderful, and surprising. Surprises are good, if we accept that things always change and that change is good.
You learn how things work. Instead of trying to make things work the way you want them to work, just watch them work. You’ll learn much more about human nature, about the nature of the world, as you see things work without you controlling it. It might change you.