Close your eyes. Okay they are closed. No, no close your eyes for real. They are closed! I insisted squeezing my lids together harder but not so hard I’d form wrinkles. A familiar, melodic voice walked me through a meditation. Possibility, he said as he described the ocean in front of me. Possibility is everything in the ocean moving towards you. You don’t have to do anything, Emma. Just let it wash in. I swallowed my argument and continued listening as he repeated. Do nothing. Let good things come to you.
Had it been a yoga instructor or a friend or my mother, I would have counted down the moments until I could voice my already formed argument, opened my eyes and promptly rolled them. But this voice came from my very first love. The kind of love where you learn everything about love. The love that teaches you what love is and how to do it and how to fuck it up and put it back together and hold on tight…and then let go. The love that makes you certain with all of your heart that he’s “the one” then adamantly convinced “the one” doesn’t exist. And all before you are twenty two.
A decade of life later, when that love talks, I still listen. Like a naive, too-trusting twenty-year-old, I take in what he tells me. I don’t second guess it. I don’t call his bullshit even when I know he is making something up. Like the time he told me that Christmas was actually on the day the Roman Empire had its largest orgy. Or the time we were laying in a grassy quad under the summer night sky, and he manufactured constellations based on the single star he could actually identify. I just listened and let him think he was teaching me something insurmountable. Because he was. Not about stars or Christmas, but about enigmatic love in the felicity of life. Sitting on that beach with the possibility water washing over me, I was transported back to when I was eighteen: wide-eyed, unprepared, slightly gullible, falling in love with the idea that the world was a magical combination of mystery and determination.
Along the way, determination superseded mystery. Maybe I was brain-washed by various institutions or maybe I am just too pragmatic. I disregarded the mystery of the universe in place of intentional perseverance. And like most humans, I’m egocentric. I have to stamp every good thing in my life as mine. I made it. I nurtured it. I went for it and boom – mine. For most of my life, I have been an achiever. Headstrong and determined, industrious by nature, I learn, adapt, and try really fucking hard for my dreams. My goals. My endgame. It works because I make it work. I have a job I love. I have a beautifully decorated apartment, healthy lifestyle, can run quite far and bend in a few impressive postures. I cross travel places off of a list and make one new recipe per week. I have an entire wall of sticky notes with giant check marks on them. When faced with a decision, I choose and confidently pull the trigger.
That’s all great. But at one point, laying in that quad, I truly believed – or pretended to believe – that there exists a master plan greater than thou that will unfold with minimal effort. Along the way, I replaced that beautiful if credulous belief with the time-tested methodology of hard work. In one fell swoop I’m ready to just kick back and let everything I have ever wanted in life come to me? Well no. But his real point was that I have laid enough foundation to reap some of the reward. Like I don’t have to keep grinding away and grinding away and grinding away. I can relax. I can have fun. I can let some good things happen to me without having to claim stake in their materialization. I can believe that all that is possible in life will likely come to me in due time. And best of all, I don’t always have to pull the trigger.