It Just Is

I have this habit of wanting clear explanations for things when they don’t work out. The problem with that mindset is that often times there are no explanations.

It just is.

And that is the hardest reality for me to accept because it reminds me that I have little control over what happens to me. Or to those I love and care about. Or to anyone for that matter.

It just is.

Tolkien knew this well:

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.

“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

Oh, that I could have this perspective in the moment. No, rather, I allow myself to be drawn into the drama of not seeing things for as they are, but wishing they were otherwise, tantrums and all.

And it gets worse.

When the reality of the situation is exacerbated by my reaction to it. Like icing on the cake. Perhaps this is God’s way of showing me the old self I must learn to leave behind before I am finished here. The little me.

Until then, I am tethered to him like conjoined twins. Where he goes, I go. Where I go, he goes.

What a lovely pair we make.

Life Outside The Lines

When I was a kid, my mom would scold me for staying within the lines on my coloring books.

“Be bold, Mijo. Make your own lines!” she would exhort. Screen Shot 2013-11-26 at 7.55.13 AM

As soon as she would walk away, I would return to the comfort of coloring within the lines and making my grass green and skies blue like my Ritchie Rich comic books. Perhaps this was the safe haven engineering offered early in my career. A vocation experienced, for the most part, within the lines. It was all about solving problems and getting from point A to point B as fast as possible, or at least faster than the next guy. It’s the American way as they say.

Funny how things change

The most meaningful experiences I have had have been the result of having strayed, sometimes by intention, but more times by accident outside the lines, and coloring the sky purple. New careers, public speaking, and Haiti mission trips to name a few.

The challenge has become that as I age, however, venturing outside the lines is more difficult. The complacency of routine undermines the yearn for new experiences. Recently a good friend of mine invited me to an improv acting class. I was surprised at my hesitancy to accept, wondering how much of an ass I would make of myself if I did. The class turned out to be a blast of course, and have since used one of the warm up exercises with a client.

Good stuff.

But I didn’t plan on it and wouldn’t have even thought of attending if I hadn’t been pushed outside the lines. Further, I noticed something important in the process. I am more present outside the lines. I am paying attention to the situation, what the other person is saying, how they are feeling, where we are standing, what the weather is like. On everything but me.

Better stuff.

Nowadays, when I see a coloring book I smile. I think of purple skies and coloring outside the lines. Because that is where life is.