Life seems hard.
Sometimes we bare the weight of the world on our shoulders.
There is work, bills to be paid, kids to rear, the slow but steady destruction of the ozone layer and a multitude of other worries that cause us stress.
Damn. Even the dude from Lethal Weapon has lost his marbles.
Sometimes the pressure gets so overwhelming, that we find ourselves hopeless. It's easy to become a slave to the whirlwind of it all.
What we don't always realize, is that life is going to happen whether we feed the beast or not.
What if every so often, we resisted the urge to jump on the moving treadmill?
What if we just let go from time to time and let life happen?
I don't mean that we should shirk our responsibilities. I just mean that we don't necessarily have to worry about what we can't control.
I'm talking about letting go.
Someone told me recently, "If you can change it, don't worry about it. If you can't change it, don't worry about it."
This statement makes so much sense to me. The message is simple; don't worry about it. It's the worrying that eats us up inside. It's the worrying that keeps us up at night. It's the worrying that consumes our every thought.
Lately, I've been learning to stop worrying and just let things happen. Make no mistake about it, I'm still doing the right thing. I'm still working as hard as I've always worked and I haven't stopped loving my family. The only difference, is I'm not worrying.
And you know what?
I feel much better. I'm getting more things accomplished and miraculously, I have twice as much time on my hands. The reality is that the worry and the stress, take up more time and more energy than it takes to solves the problems themselves.
Easier said than done?
Let me try and break it down a bit.
When times are tough and life serves us up more than we can handle, we sometimes use the expression, "It's like trying to fit 10 lbs of shit into a 5 lb bag."
This is a perfect analogy for all of the stress we let accumulate in our bodies and our minds. It's as if the shit starts in our toes and piles up in our legs, through our mid section and all the way up to our neck, until it's ready to explode out of our ears, like a giant, shit volcano.
But the shit has no place to go. So it stays in our bodies and our minds and starts to stink and it makes us sick, physically and mentally.
This reminds me of an experience I had some time ago.
I was at work and one of my co-workers was celebrating a birthday. As is the standard office tradition, we all gathered around at the end of the day, sang a lifeless and resentful happy birthday and presented her with a birthday cake.
I am not a cake eater, nor a dessert person in general but this cake was glorious. I remember it vividly. It was a large, round, Häagen Dazs cake. It had vanilla ice cream on the inside, with a chocolaty layer on the outside and it was topped with an array of delicious pirouline wafers.
I am lactose intolerant.
I indulged anyway.
Then when everyone dispersed, I circled back to the scene of the crime and helped myself to another piece of cake. I couldn't resist.
I packed up and left for the day.
At the time, my wife and I lived about 20 minutes outside of the city; a short commute via subway if there are no delays. So I hopped on the subway and began my trip home. About 5 minutes into my journey, I felt a bit of a twinge in my belly. I knew right away what that meant. I had about 10 - 15 minutes tops before I was in gastro-intestinal disarray. I could do nothing but sit tight and pray. The twinge in my belly quickly turned into pain and a wave of panic began to wash over me. I began to sweat. Quickly, I started to look around. I needed to be prepared for an emergency. I surveyed the exits located at either end of the subway car.
I needed to move around, so I walked up and down the car. Then we came to a halt. There was an announcement that there would be delays ahead.
"I'm fucked." I thought.
I was 4 stops away from my destination with no where to "go".
Not dissimilar to the stress and anxiety in my life, the shit was beginning to pile up inside of me with no where to go.
But I held it in and it didn't feel good at all.
In the end, I made it all the way to my stop. I got off the train and waddled up the street like a drunken duck with his knees bound together.
I was running on sheer instinct and the pain was draining the life out of me.
I felt powerless.
Then it dawned on me.
Why am I struggling? What's the worst that can happen to me? Why am I fighting what is not in my power to control?
And at that moment, standing not 50 yards from my apartment building...
I LET GO.
Standing in a crowd of people, during rush hour, on the corner of Yellowstone and Jewel, I let go and the feeling was indescribable. I had never felt such freedom, such exaltation, or such liberation from the chains that had bound me on that subway ride and in life.
I had shit myself like a baby in the middle of the street and I felt alive.
The point is letting go is hard. It's everything our minds, our bodies and society tells us NOT to do but until we toss all of these expectations out the window and truly let the natural order of things take its course, we'll be forever stuck on the hamster wheel of life; forever turning but going nowhere.
So the next time you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders, don't try to stuff 10 lbs of shit into a 5 lb bag.
Just let go.
It's way more sanitary than shitting yourself on a street corner.