*This is actually a journal entry from January 2016. I had just moved from Perth, Australia, to South Australia, without any clue what my next life step was.
This was before I moved overseas. Before I turned writing into my full-time job. Before I learnt that figuring out if someone likes you is not some fucking advanced forensic investigation that requires you to spend hours poring over texts like there’s been some secret declaration of undying love written in invisible ink in the white spaces. This was before I learnt that if they really like ya, you’ll know. But I digress.
The sea told me I had some control issues today.
I mean, I asked for it, as I always do when I’m out of alignment. When I feel like I’m running around in circles and don’t know what to do with myself, my inner voice (a worldlier, calmer, less hyperactive version of myself who brushes her hair a lot more and says ‘fuck’ a lot less) always says the same thing: just get to the sea, Caitlin.
I go for clarity, for peace, for an answer to a problem, or at least a more contrstuctive perspective on it. Not that this always works. Sometimes I get into the ocean and am like ‘help me!’ And the sea is all like ‘can’t you see I’m busy making waves and regenerating life and shit?! Here, have a closeout set on the head.’ Or, ‘here, have a giant ambiguous shadow pass under your board so I can laugh heartily and watch your panicked, clumsy ass paddle back to shore’ (please bear in mind I write this article in Australia, where Great MF whites are no MF joke and if you see a big MF shadow pass under your board you get the hell outta there like, yesterday.)
Sometimes, though, the sea is calm. Pensive. She welcomes me into her folds and strokes my hair and gives me some truths that are so profound I get goosebumps. Today was one of those days.
Today I hit the water, in knots of anxiety. I was stressed about so many things. About wether my internship would turn into a job, would I ever get paid to write or should I just give up now, where would I be in six months, would this person I couldn’t stop thinking about still be in my life, what would happen, was I just making a giant mess of everything…
And that’s when she spoke. Mama ocean. She said this:
“About half things you are trying to control right now, you cannot control. They are uncontrollable. They are completely our of your hands. So, let’s do some homework together. Let’s separate everything that is troubling you right now into two lists: ‘1. That which I can control’ and ‘2. That which I cannot control.’
So I did.
As it turns out, even in the letting-go of a conventional life we still build ideas of how we’d like our new life of crazy, wild adventures and twists and turns to look like. We like our fantasy very much. And it’s one of the hardest things to surrender that vision, and actually trust the flow. Not to just pretend to trust the flow cause all the cool kids are doing it. Trust is an easy concept to intellectualise but in practice, it’s a bit more difficult.
At the end of thirty minutes, I had filled the list.
I can control how hard I work to build a life on my own terms, pertaining to my own vision and purpose.
I can’t control the contingencies, financial, geographical, occupational, health-related, that present potholes in this road.
But I can control how I choose to face them. As they arise. No point wearing a raincoat waiting for it to rain…
I cannot control who I fall for, and when, and how hard, and how fast.
I can be in control of filling my own cup, of making sure it is so full of rad experiences and radical self love and self acceptance, that I don’t need to seek it from anyone else in order to feel whole.
I can’t control who I think of in those last few seconds of consciousness at night, right on the fringes of sleep. I can’t control if they’ll ever meet me there, or how long it’ll take them to meet me there, or how long they might stay, or when they might leave, or the fact that we might want to leave.
But I can control wether that makes me build walls, or appreciate the beauty that is connection with another human being.
So ask yourself, where are you trying to control the uncontrollable. What would happen if you stepped back and surrendered? This life is meant to be experienced, danced with, appreciated. Not crushed into your sweaty palm so tight it can’t even breathe.
*Feature Image: Jennica Lowell by Morgan Oliver Allen