Sometimes we are completely invested in a certain outcome so we can't imagine that something different could be better. When the immediate goal fails to materialize, we are despondent. It does not need to be this way. A more elegant path is to choose to say yes to whatever comes, even to the things that don't make sense right away.
When we were newlyweds, we set out to buy a gorgeous, light-filled apartment on a high floor. We were so excited! Home ownership meant that we were real adults, masters of our destiny. We lined up all of our supporting documents and waited eagerly for the co-op interview. Alas, we were never invited, but simply notified that we had been turned down. Through an unusual turn of events, we discovered that the neighbor of the apartment wanted to buy it himself and enlarge his footprint. He would have blackballed any prospective buyer. We felt utterly dejected. Our dream home had slipped right through our fingers. I shed bitter tears and could not picture buying anything else. We did continue our search afterwards, though cheerlessly. To our surprise, we found a large and handsome townhouse in the same price range a few months later. We purchased it with ease. Looking back, I should have been confident that a happier outcome awaited me.
This summer served as a continuous lesson in saying yes to the unknown. I invoked Rumi's quote to live life as if everything is rigged in our favor whenever something did not go as planned. As soon as a silver lining presented itself, I pulled out the quote as proof. One evening, when we intended to eat at a popular restaurant without a reservation, we were turned away. Our strategy had been to arrive before the dinnertime crush. However, we had had so much fun playing in the ocean and on the beach, that we delayed our departure. By the time we arrived, all the tables were booked. My son, who had been salivating for the sizzling rice bowl with crispy tofu, was sorely disappointed. On the way to the next eatery, I confidently quipped, "Remember, the universe always conspires in our favor." I wanted him to choose to stay open, to say yes, to whatever might happen that evening. After all, our summer had been littered with delightful turns of events.
We found a new sushi restaurant that served high quality raw fish, and the disappointment over the rice bowl was forgotten. Afterwards we treated ourselves to delicious homemade ice cream nearby, and also made a fruitful excursion to the variety store. We do not often impulse-shop for toys, but that evening my son walked away with a laser remote control car that could drive up walls. With his new toy in one hand and chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream in the other, I asked him whether the universe had conspired in his favor. He answered, "Mama, whenever you say that, good things happen." Of course it is the other way around, but no matter. I could feel his conviction. He will walk through life believing that his journey will be unexpectedly enchanting.
We do not know what is around the corner, so we often cling to the negative feelings surrounding past events. It can be hard to let go, and often for good reason. I struggle all the time to release, and stay open. That evening I learned, even more so than my son, that when we trust that the universe conspires in our favor, good things happen.
Mila Atmos is a columnist whose work has been featured by The Huffington Post, Quartz, and Medium.
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