Buddha laughs at me when I make things too complicated...
Wouldn’t be nice if gifts arrived exactly as we expected them, precisely when we knew they were coming, in the perfect package?
Or would it?
Is this why people register for wedding gifts, write out detailed vision boards or ‘hint’ to their significant others the ‘perfect’ engagement ring they’re angling for? We want eight sets of dishes (not six, not ten); we want the Spanish-style house with the succulent garden (not the traditional with roses and lavender); and we want the exact ring that is not so big that we are embarrassed, and not so small that we are, well…embarrassed.
We do this so that we feel some control over the input of our lives. Control = comfort. We want to know exactly what, when and how much is coming in so that we can think we are dictating the flow. It’s got to be neat, orderly and predictable. We have to feel like we are the boss.
I don’t know about you, but for me, it rarely happens this way. And mostly, I am extremely grateful that Life seems to know better than I exactly what I’m meant to receive, how much, how big and when it all arrives at my doorstep.
‘Gifts’ come in sneaky packages, often wrapped in some pain, confusion and the need to expand, grow and adapt beyond what we were really wanting (or expecting) to have to do. You hear about people getting horrible illnesses only – much later – to say it was the best thing that ever happened to them because it put them on a path they would have never travelled otherwise.
But initially, there can be pain, which leads us to think that something is ‘wrong’ or that our package got switched with someone else’s at the post office.
Surely this can’t be for me – not with all this mess attached to it! This is NOT what I ordered!
I think of some friends of mine who have moved across the country or across the world who are struggling with the new adjustments. Moving to a new place can bring immense opportunity, growth and beauty, but initially there is a huge adjustment phase when you are thinking, ‘What on earth have I done, this is not the ‘gift’ I expected it would be.” You are being asked to expand well beyond your comfort zone, something maybe you weren’t thinking about when picking out a new apartment or the perfect scarf to wear down a European street.
Or, what about feelings of immense love that can come up at the most unexpected times? A deep feeling of connection with a teacher, a friend, a lover? I was speaking with a friend today who commented that for some people, opening up to true, deep, pure love (in whatever form – familial, romantic, friendship) is the hardest thing to do. Sometimes it’s too much, so they need to walk away, or at least take a break. I can understand this.
Sometimes the love comes in a way we weren’t expecting or from someone we didn’t see coming, or at a time that seems like the worst possible moment. And then, there it is. It’s a gift in disguise once we work though the muck of it, but we have to be willing to expand to receive. It’s up to us (darn).
Then there is the spiritual awakening, which I’ve discussed in some recent blog posts. Opening up to the divine presence inside of yourself is one of the most ridiculously beautiful, healing, life-altering experiences that leaves you forever changed. With this can be pain, confusion and the desire to run away…far, far away! You get opened up like a butterfly who has gone through a huge metamorphosis, and if we aren’t ready, or if we don’t believe it’s possible, or if we think we don’t deserve to fly that high and know that much LOVE, it will be a bumpy, bumpy ride.
Why? Because we are blocking the flow, even though we don’t realize it. An unexpected, immense gift has arrived and now we don’t know what to do with it. So we leave it on the porch, almost wishing it would go away. Please go away so I can get back to how I was expecting things to happen. We don’t want to invite it in because it’s not what we planned, so we don’t know where to put it or what to do with it. Humans are a funny bunch.
Yes, there are many gifts that come way bigger and quite different than we expected. So what do we do now?
Speaking from personal experience, the best way I know how to deal with this is to be aware of the rollercoaster ride – that huge, crazy-ass expansion going on in your soul – while simultaneously being able to sit quietly on a bench, next to the ride at the amusement park with a nice glass of iced tea (preferably passion fruit, unsweetened), watching the entire thing unfold.
I’ve heard people refer to this a ‘detaching with love’ and I think this is a really sweet, kind and loving way to express it. Because for those of us who feel our emotions on such a deep level (that would be me), the ride can almost kill us if we weren’t prepared, or don’t have a good handle on what’s happening.
Hold on! Know that Life has bigger plans for you than what you’ve written on your registry or vision board. And that the Ultimate Gift – pure LOVE – wants to find you even if it arrives in a package that is initially baffling, challenging or unexpected.
There is a Native American prayer that says: “Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way.”
I think that pretty much sums it up. Though perhaps there should be a footnote that says “Even if it arrives in a different way than you expected.”