Now that I’m back working and have less time for socializing, I often spend my commute times talking on the phone with my best friend. We’ve been friends nearly 40 years and we talk at least twice a day—if not more—but we always have plenty to discuss and process. Much of it these days focuses on how much we’re still learning about ourselves despite being as old as we are. And practically every lesson we glean from that day’s set of circumstances is one we’ve had to learn before. Because, really, that’s what it is to be a human. One of the hardest for each of us—and one we revisit weekly—is one that sounds simple: Trust the universe.
Part of the reason I have such a hard time letting that settle in me as a basic guide to behavior is that is so simple. But it also sounds like some kind of magic. Growing up in the 60s, when people talked about trusting the universe, I always felt like it meant to just sit quietly and everything great would come to you. And, in a long, roundabout way, that is actually what it means. But it took me a very long time to realize that, at first, not everything that happens seems great. I also didn’t see the connection between my anxiety about what was going to occur next and the fact that I probably had very little control over said happenings.
I’ve crested a hill that gives me an amazing view, both behind me and ahead of me.
All of this is to say that I am at one of those looking back phases in my life. I’m reflecting not because of regrets, or even a feeling that my life is coming to an end (although that is certainly closer than every before). It’s just that I’ve crested a hill that gives me an amazing view, both behind me and ahead of me. So much of the movement of my life has felt unplanned and almost accidental. I fell into an amazing career choice, I nearly scared myself away from the love of my life, and I spent a lot of time fretting about, and occasionally lamenting, many life decisions. As it turns out, I probably had very little influence in any of those events and occurrences.
I’m not suggesting that some greater power led me to everywhere I needed to be, although I’m not entirely sure that isn’t true. Mostly, I was extremely blessed to have a lot of lovely opportunities placed in my path and something in me knew to step toward them—even when I almost didn’t. This could absolutely mean that the universe provided for me, but it’s more likely that I made the best of whatever was set before me. And the lesson is probably always the same: Things work out.
This is not an easy message to grasp if you’ve just lost someone close to you or if some other grim event has occurred in your life. But, if those things have happened, as they have to most of us—and we’re still standing—the truth that things work out is hard to deny. They may not have gone the way we hoped they would or dreamed they might, but we trudged forward and found ourselves someplace new. If you’re old like me, you no doubt realize that this transformation was only a little bit the result of outside forces. It was mostly our own ability to keep our eyes on the horizon and our spirits as hopeful as we could possibly muster.
There are many days that I know I am capable of getting through tough situations. On the few when I am doubting the depth of my inner strength, I listen to myself and my best friend reminding each other that we’ll be OK no matter how long the road or how hard it feels. Truthfully, regardless of how I know this or where it comes from, there is always a bit of relief not far ahead.