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Living With Loose Ends

Learning to be happy even when life doesn't always go the way you want.

I like things to be neat and tidy. My wife might tell you otherwise regarding the way I leave books and little piles of stuff around the house, but when it comes to my mental space - I like things to be in order.


It's a control thing, I know.


I wake up in the morning and I want life to give me just the good stuff that day, with as little interruption as possible. In order to give myself a fighting chance of dealing with whatever the day may bring I do my morning routine - Five Tibetan Rites, Meditation, and Qi Gong, and then I'm primed and ready to face the day.


There's some superstition in this for sure, but it also makes me feel energised and connected to something bigger than myself. It also helps me to fend off the jabs that my worried, little mind likes to throw at me sporadically - testing and prodding me to see if I'm paying attention, like we're sparring partners. But, I'm a lover not a fighter, you'd think it would know that by now.

But, feeling pretty good now, I head off into the day and hope, with fingers and toes crossed, that nothing comes along to derail my early efforts and knock my best intentions.


But life, and reality, is not like that. Reality doesn't care how many downward dogs you've done before dawn, or whether you reached a state of nirvana after your chia, yoghurt and blueberry breakfast. Life just is, regardless of our expectations.


Soon enough, news reaches you of the passing of a friend's beloved relative, and you know you need to immediately change your plans for the days ahead to be there for them. Your To-Do list becomes a Won't-Get-To-Do list.


A friend let's you know they are annoyed with you over something you didn't even say. Defending yourself makes you look guilty, but it also irks you that the misunderstanding is causing tension.


Another friend doesn't get back to you after you call or message them.


Someone else asks a favour of you that is really out of your way, but you had offered your services a few days before, and they would do the same for you.


All of this, and it's not even lunchtime. All these loose ends and fragments of unfinished business can irk and irritate the hell out of you.


A knot develops in your stomach, your body begins to tense, so subtly sometimes that you don't even notice it happening. The tension and stress is caused by expectations meeting reality. With a more fluid approach to accepting whatever comes along, there would be no reason for stress, but when we have any expectations then we are setting ourselves up for a fall.


It's hard though to just head out into life without some form of focus or expectation, even if it's something as simple as to just be happy. I'm not magnanimous enough to ask for World peace, just a little bit of selfish joy, and then perhaps I'll go and deal with wider issues.


So, try as we may, reality, unfortunately, cannot be bent to fit the shape we want it to. It will spring back to resume its normal form and slap you in the face in the process. It is us that has to change.


Reality isn't perfect, it doesn't need to be, it just is. Reality isn't neat and tidy, that's a human judgement we project onto it.


We need to learn to live with the raggedy, frayed edges of reality. We need to accept that we can be happy without everything being tidied away into neat, little boxes. We need to be able to feel the irk and still do to work.


We simply cannot wait until everything is sorted out before we decide we will be happy. We have to be happy even if things don't get sorted.


Learn to love the tatter of life.

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