The title of this post is a question I have found myself asking over and over recently.
Does everything have to be such a production? Does everything have to be so hard?
I just returned from a nine day trip down the Eastern Seaboard with middle school students. during which I lived out of a giant black bag and a hot pink rolling suitcase. The entire week, I struggled with the handle of that stupid suitcase. Every time I would try to put the handle down, it would jam.
I would stand there slamming it, willing it, forcing it to retract. And every time, I would eventually take a deep breath and stop fighting it so hard. Only then would it retract and allow me to load it onto the plane or bus.
Ever since I was a little girl, I have had to learn the hard way. One of my most vivid memories of being a small child was of a sunny day in the Bay Area of California, which everyone knows might as well be a winter day everywhere else. My parents suggested I wear a coat since it was freezing cold. Precocious me replied that it was sunny out so wearing a coat was clearly not necessary. After fighting them so hard, they finally relented and I went outside, sans coat, and learned my lesson in about three seconds.
This tends to be how I move through life: if there is a lesson to be learned, I will throw myself into it full throttle, only backing down when I am sure that nothing can be done. I work hard to control as much as I can and when it doesn't work out, I tend to push harder as opposed to letting go.
In the past year, I have been forced to let go. There have been numerous situations in which I have begged and prayed for and fought for a different outcome, and much to my dismay, nothing would change. As someone who has just the slightest of control issues, this is highly disappointing and unacceptable to me; however, life tends to remind you over and over that you cannot control many things in this world.
One of the most notable was in some friendships. I had once been extremely close to a group of people, when I started to feel like I wasn't truly part of the group. More and more frequently, I was seeing pictures of things I wasn't invited to and events I wasn't included in. At first, I fought. I tried asking what was going on, inviting them to do things, trying to communicate how left out I felt. After months of turmoil and hurt feelings, I tried a new approach: letting go.
I stopped clamoring to be included. I stopped agonizing over the pictures. I let myself grieve the loss of friendships I once treasured, while trying to reflect on how I could have been a better friend. And while it still stings, the sadness has been replaced with a sense of ease because I am no longer struggling to force something that clearly wasn't working for many of the people involved. I poured energy into people who were eager to be friends and whose friendship left me feeling filled up rather than depleted and wondering why I wasn't good enough.
The circumstances didn't change. They didn't suddenly come to their senses and realize that they wanted my friendship back. The only circumstance that changed was my attitude: I was letting it go.
I can create a sense of ease wherever I go.
Letting things be easy doesn't always feel easy, at least at first. I recently made a list of things that I want to accomplish during my summer break. Most of them are creative goals, or goals that contribute to my own sense of well-being. Next, I made a list of all the things standing in my way.
There was one common denominator: me.
I revised my list to consider all the ways I could make things easier on myself:
Instead of simply wishing I was writing every day rather than spending my days dinking around the Internet, I could delete Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram from my phone so it's less likely I get stuck in a rabbit hole.
Instead of preventing myself from making art because all of my stuff is spread out and far away, I could organize it and place it in an easily accessible area so it's easier to use.
Instead of making a complicated plan for working out, I could just do what I like: spin and yoga and walks.
Instead of buying things for all new recipes at the store and deciding it's too hot and annoying to do that and ordering delivery instead, I can choose easy, healthy favorites I know I will eat and things that don't require an oven for the summer time.
More and more these days, I find myself asking, "How can I make this easy?" Not so I can be lazy, but so I can flow rather than run ragged against road blocks.
Not everything has to be such a production. But if I don't want it to be, I have to be willing to make it easy.