“I don’t know what to do.”
Lately, this phrase finds its way into my life more and more. As in, I don’t know what to do when nothing I try will bring resolve to something in my life. Or, I don’t know what to do when I look out at a world demanding I live in a way that makes absolutely no sense to me.
I am reading a novel called “A Wizard of Earthsea,” where one of the final scenes finds the protagonist traveling further than he or anyone has ever gone in his attempt to bring resolve to something. The wizard comes to the place where the magic and all the things he has ever known no longer work. He is left moving ever closer to something that is only his to do, but with no way of knowing what to do when he gets there.
Or, what will happen.
This is exactly how I feel lately as I come up against those places in Life where what I did before no longer works, and yet, I have no idea what to do or how things will turn out. It is not a comfortable place. But it is a real place.
More to the point here, it is the very place that most of us try and avoid at all costs.
It is terrifying to feel you have no power to effect change. No control over shifting something in your life. It’s almost too painful to admit. And so, we don’t. Instead, we engage in all kinds of behaviors that make us feel as though we are doing something. Anything. Creating the illusion that what we are doing is having an impact. That it’s up to us around how things turn out.
But it’s not always up to us.
That’s a hard, almost unbearable Truth to be with. And, it’s the only legitimate starting point. It’s like before someone can get sober, they must first admit something they have been unwilling to admit to before.
Interestingly enough, to come to the knowing that it is not up to you and that you don’t know what to do puts you in an exquisite position. That being, the vantage point of seeing something more clearly because the situation is not muddied by all of your attempts and preconceptions. Of course, this awareness often comes in surrender moments for we do not easily let go of what we always do.
But if and when you can admit that nothing you have been trying is working, try doing nothing. Yes, you heard it. Do nothing. This was the permission a friend recently gave me: A reminder that to do nothing is a sane and valid response. Full disclosure: It feels awful initially. Like the whole thing is going to hit the floor if you don’t do what you always do.
But if you can be with that, knowing that feeling awful is a part of it, there is a coming to terms that is possible. A kind of necessary correction around what is within your control and jurisdiction, and what is not.
If this makes any sense to you, be on the lookout for the places where you always do the same thing without getting the results you want. The times where you are trying to muscle something into happening to no avail. And then stop. Just stop. If even for a moment.