As soon as that title phrase comes out of my mouth the internal chatter begins. I start out by telling myself how quotes like this are almost always cliche, trite and just downright cheesy. Usually they make me cringe. I visualize the words popping up on my Facebook feed with a majestic sunset behind them. I'm sure that what's really behind most of these quotes is a lesson learned from someone's pain. Pain that is now being oversimplified in an attempt to pacify or inspire me momentarily as I scroll down my social media feed. Nowadays, quotes seem to have been relegated to being superimposed onto what seems to be a never ending reel of recycled pictures of sunsets, mountain ranges and ocean views which are then plastered all over social media. Life on Life's Terms is a saying that deserves more consideration. It's a saying that all too often just glides in one ear and out the other. When you hear it, you may find yourself giving an earnest nod and saying "oh, I know that one". But do we really? I for one have had to endure some pretty severe ass whoopings compliments of the universe before it even began to permeate my psyche.
To me, life on life's terms means getting used to having no expectations. I don't mean lowered expectations and I don't mean modified expectations. I really mean no expectations. After all, your life is really just a little point of light in an infinite universe, quite insignificant actually. If you think that's bleak or dreary, it's not my intention. I'm not saying that your life cannot be wonderful and full of meaning to you and to those you touch, but what I am saying is that that meaning is very tiny in the grand scheme of things. Why do we have so much resistance to that fact? Maybe our resistance to the idea actually sheds light on our inherent egocentricity. Regardless, I know that you still have to live inside your complicated brain and have to work from that vantage point 24/7, which is why your own control, desires and needs are almost always sitting at the top of the queue. The problem is, when you try to exert control over the universe by constantly trying to make the external environment suitable for yourself, you will eventually fall behind, then fail and then feel overwhelmed and battered. Eventually, those failings turn into a lifetime of ass kickings which culminate in you feeling sorry for yourself which is when the blaming begins (a far cry from the magical unicorn inspirational quotes). The problem is that in exchange for taking the position of "victim", you give up the opportunity to change your perspective. How you filter the happenings in the universe is the only real control that you have, the only thing that can't be stripped from you. By identifying as a victim, whether you are one or not, you make your ability to be happy and peaceful contingent upon things outside of yourself.
Letting go of expectations is not giving up. It's opening up. It's acknowledging the truth. The truth that you don't have much control. The truth that the world is a crazy, fun, scary, sad, happy and unpredictable ball of rock spinning around a fireball. If you can find a way to work that idea into the fabric of your being, then life becomes an adventure. When I say "an adventure", I don't mean that you'll just be happy. I don't want you to picture those words with a sunrise coming up behind them. What I mean is that you will learn to work with life in a way that doesn't alter your core sense of calm and well being. A sense of peace that becomes rooted in the knowledge that you can handle whatever happens and be ok....not always fantastic, but ok. When I read articles similar to this, I always feel like something is missing. I realized that what they don't say is that you can learn to live this way and find this peace even if you are dying, or feeling alone. They don't say that you can do this even after things in your life have completely fallen apart. People don't want to talk about the bad things, but that doesn't slow them down. Even though you can never know for sure what's coming down the pipes, you can absolutely count on the fact that wonderful, horrible and everything in between things will continue to make frequent appearances.
Letting go of expectations isn't a gateway into a Utopian existence. Rather, it's a gateway into living gracefully and peacefully with what actually is happening right here and right now. It's means being present...and although that's damn hard, breath taking, beautiful and terrifying, I'm convinced that it's the only place to be. -Jen