Fear is something I have had an intimate relationship for most of my life. Fear of not being in control, fear of loss of a loved one, fear of not being employed, fear of not being loved and fear of not being enough.
Surrender and learning how to trust are tools that I have known were available to me but I lacked the courage to put into practice on any regular basis. I have gone out of my way in life to take control of my situation. It gave me a false sense of stability. It was like, if I could control what was happening, plan for most contingencies, then all would be right in my world.
How did that turn out for me? In the moment, it gave me space to breath. A bit of stable ground under my feet. Yesterday, at the ashram, I started the day by striking cuts in the ice on the paths with a blade then filling them with dirt. I was pondering the cuts and thinking about control. The cuts alone wouldn’t help to control people slipping. I had to add another layer of dirt in the cracks to gain some resistance. Even then the theory wasn’t a 100% slip proof there were so many scenarios that could happen where you could still fall. Control is a nefarious beast don’t you think? Can you really ever be in complete control?
I have run myself ragged trying to be everything to everyone. The only person I forgot to include was me.
The groundskeeper took us through a demonstration on how to use the wood splitter. There were four of us, so I was pretty sure I could slip into a comfortable job of tossing the wood into the trailer. We had a rhythm going and it was working efficiently until he says “switch places”. My heart starts beating quickly as I am next at the control switch. This time I don’t want control. Everyone shifts and I find myself staring at the machine. “Nice and easy now” he says. I take a breath, straighten my big girl panties, lift the lever and push down the throttle. I did it! Yeah big deal, now keep going.
Here’s the thing, it’s not about being in control. It’s about letting go, having the courage to trust in complete strangers that they are there for you. Is that easy? No. Will someone always catch you when you fall? No. Should you keep expecting to trust those around you who don’t show up for you? No.
To me, it’s more about finding my way while I try to establish connections with others who values of give and take match mine. I will still encounter harm, moments of distrust and being alone in my struggle. Life has taught me the hard way that you take a chance when you step up to split the wood. All kinds of things can go awry. Yet all kinds of things can show you that you are stronger than you think. By some miracle, there are still people in this world that are trying just like you to help each other without an agenda. You take a chance when you step up and trust someone else to give you what you need. It’s those times when all goes well that I crave. You lean back and they catch you.
I feel for my friend Sharon. I can see where she is at with the cycle that I just recently completed in the last few years. My sister’s passing, my dad’s dementia,estrangement from his kids and then passing. Being the only relative left to care for him because he had made it impossible to be around him. My mother in-law passed next and then the final chip at the ice came in 2019 when my mom passed away. I thought that I could rely on close family to take up the chisels and make the path stable for us all. That others would gladly fill their buckets with sand and sprinkle the way with support. It didn’t happen. At least it didn’t feel like it to me. Brene Brown talks about “meeting people where they are at”. I have been pondering that aspect of expectations of others. Maybe I have expected too much from those around me. I know that I have never been that great at expressing what I need. One of the messages circulated here at the ashram is that “we aren’t mind readers, you have to say what you need”. They go a bit further and express it’s not only good practice it’s vital to the success of community living.
I hope to get better at saying what I need. Trusting that others will help me to step up to the wood splitter and take my turn. As I look at the fire in the fireplace I am full of gratitude. Knowing, for probably the first time in my life, that I am in a place where others want to help me. I can let go of some of the control and surrender.