My friend Jeff collapsed onto a table in the Marriott Library from a stroke. He was taken away in an ambulance to the hospital. He was in his early 30s.
I was supposed to meet Jeff that day in the library to study for comps but I canceled on him at the last minute. At the time, we were both grad students. We hadn’t started our dissertations yet. We had no idea if we were going to finish or if we were going to get jobs.
Today, Jeff and I are both PhDs and we still get to work together. We have incredible jobs and he is a stunning survivor. I am so full of gratitude for how it has turned out.
- I wish I had been with Jeff that day. But, I didn’t know that would happen.
- I wish I hadn’t stressed out about graduating. But, I didn’t know what would happen.
- I wish I hadn’t worried about finding a job. But, I didn’t know what would happen.
- I wish I had trusted my future. But, I didn’t know what would happen.
Do we ever really know what will happen? No.
Yesterday, I was talking to a friend who is in a long distance relationship. She is currently with her partner having a great time, yet he is leaving this winter and traveling for months.
The longest I have ever been apart from a partner was a month. That was a tough month. True, I was able to binge watch all seasons of LOST. At least that brought me some relief. (But then again, it was also seriously frustrating because have you seen LOST? How many hot men are on that show? Please. It’s a maddening multicultural mecca of men. And the sun and guns are always out!!! OK, back to my point…)
Anyway, as I was talking to my friend who would be without a physical partner for months, I didn’t know what to say. I wanted to comfort her. I found myself saying this:
“You know, you have no idea what will happen.”
She agreed. We were silent for a bit. The words carried some relief.
Ohhhhhhh, I thought. Am I listening to what I’m saying? Those words are meant for me.
I have no idea what will happen. This fact can easily throw me into complete despair or offer me total freedom. It all hinges on me choosing control or faith.
I like control. I like safety. I like to know what I’m getting into. I like having a plan.
Instead, my life is a raging river. It’s moving fast. I am often pretty scared of it all. I’m holding onto a craggy rock. I’m frantic and looking around. I can’t make it to shore. I don’t know what’s downstream. I’m tired of holding on. I want to go with the flow, but I don’t completely trust this river. And meanwhile, the current is getting stronger.
Ummm…. JACK? WHERE ARE YOU?!? Said? Sawyer? Jin? John? Kate? Is ANYONE coming to rescue me?
No. It’s me and the river. FML.
And yet… if I breathe and look around, I remember that the river is wild and beautiful. The current is moving. It knows where to go.
You are in a river too.
Yes, there will be rocks.
There will be rapids.
There will be eddies.
There will be still water.
There may even be a beautiful group of survivors waiting on a sandy beach.
Beautiful swimmer: I love you, even when you’re trying to control or resist the unknown. I see you out there in the river holding on. I see that you’re struggling.
No one is coming to rescue you.
If you are being challenged, it’s because you have to learn: Let go of the rock.
No. You have no idea what will happen. None. Not a clue. And yet…
Ahhhh. Do you feel the total freedom?
See you on the beach.