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All Good Just As it is

When I make a to-do list, or I think about what needs to happen in a day or over a weekend, I'm almost always focused on things that need to be fixed. At least that’s how it feels. If I have a problem, or I’m worried about something, or even if I’ve just dreamed up some new idea, it’s frequently because I feel as if I need to remedy a situation. Sometimes it’s a problem at work that needs taking care of; other times, it’s just repairing my own attitude. I’ve always been like this. When I was a kid, and my mom was unhappy, I knew I could make things right for her just by being silly or showing her something funny on TV. Fixing things was my superpower and if I was successful, it made me feel better about the world.

I can offer my hand and my heart as we watch it unfold. That’s all, but that’s enough.

Unfortunately, it also set a bad habit in motion. I grew up believing that if something was amiss, I needed to mend it. It never occurred to me that I could just leave things alone and they would either resolve themselves or not and that we would probably all survive. In other words, I grew up believing that if I couldn’t fix something, I was not doing a great job as a human. Mostly, I turned that desire for perfection on myself. I have spent many hours either disappointed in myself that I couldn’t make things great for someone else, or that I was a less-than-perfect person. Even when I've been reminded that perfect doesn’t exist, and that most things just have to run their course, I nod, and then secretly try and figure out how I can correct whatever has gone awry. Many times, I've actually been temporarily, superficially successful—just enough to convince me to hang on to this behavior.

But the pandemic—and a million other big and little things that have occurred during this last year—have started to change my mind. I’ve begun thinking that this voice in my head that provides a daily broadcast of unresolved issues and messy situations needs to be turned off. And it’s not that I think that nothing needs resolution. If I can fix something, I will. But if I can’t, I’m working now on just trying to let it go. That’s not easy after all of these years of being on the ready, but truthfully very little of my "fixing" ever actually did anything substantive to create change. It turns out that worrying and fretting about things isn’t how we find peace, is it? I think we’ve all learned during the last year that we only have control over how we feel—and even that is a slog.

So, I’m doing everything I can to remind myself that I don’t need to fix anything. I need to be present in the moment. I need to connect with my people. I need to pay attention to the world around me. I need to feel the air and see the light and appreciate what’s in front of me. I need to just be where I am—not in some world where I’ve hammered dents into everything in an effort to make it better. This is my life—and everyone else’s. I can choose one turn instead of another, but mostly I need to let things ride. The fact is, that’s what’s going to happen anyway.

I can’t count the number of hours I’ve spent grappling with some situation in my head to get it to go another way—a troubled kid, a sad friend, a tough dilemma at work. Some actual efforts work, for sure, but the constant yammering about it in my head has done very little. I’ve spent many, many early morning moments in my life reviewing the things that bring me anxiety and trying to figure out how I can fix them. Believe me, it’s exhausting and almost totally fruitless. These days, I’m teaching myself to greet the morning with more of a sense of contentment and belief that, whatever happens, we’re here together. I can offer my hand and my heart as we watch it unfold. That’s all, but that’s enough.


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