Present Tense

Wanna know freedom?

My husband and I were having an interesting discussion the other day about unintended consequences because that’s how we roll over our morning coffee.  Plus, it was -10 outside and we had to talk about something.

He was telling me about a hike with a friend a few weeks ago and during the course of the hike he recounted a dream he’d had about a being shoved off a cliff.  His buddy immediately altered their route to avoid any cliffs, thanks to the dream.  But, I wondered what if he had still slipped and fallen on that new path?  You never really know.  Kind of like when you get a queasy feeling before a flight and you consider changing planes.  What if you switch planes and crash or sit on the tarmac for 12 hours with no food or bathroom privileges?

Unintended consequences.  We do our best to make informed choices and yet, we still have no real control over how they turn out.  Say you decide to take a great new job with higher pay, better benefits and a shorter commute; in six months the company lays you off.  It seemed like the right choice at the time; a no-brainer and yet you may have been better off staying put.  But, how could you know?

Look back on your life.  How many times did things work out exactly as you had planned?  How many times did you see a fork in your proverbial road and take the ‘right’ one or the ‘wrong’ one? Hindsight is 20/20, but in the present, in the moment that you choose, you never really know where you’ll end up.

Your life could have been much worse; it could have been much better; it could have been equally satisfying, only different.  Kind of fascinating when you think about it.  I’ve had so many instances where I had to make a choice: this path or that one or maybe that one.  What I see with that crystal clear hindsight is this:  we really have no control over our lives.  We think we do and we strive to make good choices about our jobs, our health, our spiritual life, our kids, our relationships.  But, there are too many OTHER people and events out there, who also influence how our life plays out.  It’s the pebble in the pond analogy; so many rings, intersecting with other rings.  None of us are a single pebble, in a single pond.

I’m beginning to accept that I’m not in the safe, controlled little world that I thought that I’d created.  What occurs to me is that over the years, I’ve rolled with what life dished out.  Even though I fuss and I worry, I muddle through because I’m used to the chaos that is life.  We all are; we do it, we deal, we adapt, we bitch, we complain, we get up in the morning and face it.  It’s comforting to know that nobody’s in charge, yet everybody’s in charge.  To me, that feels like freedom.

January 21, 2011 - Posted by | Musings | , , ,


  1. Great post as always!The freedom of surrender is sweet!

    Comment by Margie | January 21, 2011 | Reply

  2. Ah! Precisely the point I tried to make back in what seems so long ago now. Ya, a couple of consternations I tossed out in my frustration that caused some uproar. I remain apologetic for that. But our little friend Gautama finally figured this out as well. A little while ago now. And spent the rest of his enlightened life spelling it out for us. And it was not so much that he spelled out what you have so discovered but what do we do from that awareness now? Sure makes life a bit different from what we invested so much in that turned to dust.

    Comment by Greg | January 21, 2011 | Reply

  3. See, I think that I do have control of one thing in my life, and that is being comfortable being me, enjoying my own company….I really like me; and see others, as in good friends or a partner as enhancements to a life that is already pretty grand…..not things that “complete me”, because those friends and partners can be gone in an instance. Freedom!

    Sure, I get disappointed by some events or circumstances, but I’m pretty happy with my core….me…and that seems to be enough to pull myself together and push forward.

    I’ll leave it at that, because my realization due to a really bad marriage is such an Oprah show, you’d be bored….and you hate Oprah. HA!

    Comment by Chris Tisone | January 21, 2011 | Reply

    • That’s not what I would define as control. That’s being comfortable in your skin. A great place to be. The post isn’t about being happy; it’s more about accepting the reality that none of us are really in control of much of anything, including ourselves. For me, it means that the rough times aren’t as rough, but I need to work on relishing and being grateful for the sweet times. Whatever happens, happens, whether I’m prepared or not.

      I’m not sure I’ll ever be completely comfortable in my own skin, but that’s okay, too. Time marches on and I evolve, for good or bad.

      Comment by janelondon | January 22, 2011 | Reply

  4. I’ve been struggling with choosing the right course and making a decisive decision for a while. It seems to be more difficult as I get older. I always want to do both, but when that is impossible, I hem and haw, driving my friends and husband crazy. I recently just decided that I’d make a quick decision and go with it. A short time later I realized I had made the wrong choice. I was frustrated, but focused on the couple of good outcomes that happened as a result. Any ideas of how to make the process easier? My husband uses this quote, “Discuss, Decide, Depart.” Wish it were that easy all the time!

    Comment by Nancy Jo | January 22, 2011 | Reply

    • At the risk of sounding like an over-used cliche: it is what it is:) The choice was made and it sounds like it wasn’t horrible, since there were “good outcomes”. What choice is EVER perfect? Let it go.
      I’ve found that the agonizing over a decision is usually worse than any outcome. Waste of time and energy.
      One more cliche: No matter how far down the wrong path I’ve gone, I can always turn around:)
      I got a million!!!!

      Comment by janelondon | January 22, 2011 | Reply

  5. For me, the perfect example of this is changing lines at the store when the one your are in seems to not be moving at all. It just has to be the slowest line in the store because you are standing there watching the people in the other lines steadily move forward, make their purchases and leave the store; all the while your line has not moved at all. You stand there and access which line seems to be moving faster so as to make the switch. Well, we all know what happens then. We find ourselves standing in the line that is no longer moving and realizing we should have stayed where we were because those people are now checked out and leaving the store.

    Comment by TLS | January 23, 2011 | Reply

    • Perfect! Pick a line and enjoy the magazines because if we can’t live with that decision, we’re screwed!:)

      Comment by janelondon | January 23, 2011 | Reply

  6. Hi, Jane, I really like what you had to say at the end: “there are too many OTHER people and events out there, who also influence how our life plays out.” We truly don’t have control over our lives so, for me, I cherish and continue to thank God for everything about my life including my husband, my family, my friends, my job, my home, my good fortune. It could all be gone in an instant.

    Comment by Leona | January 24, 2011 | Reply

  7. Exactly how much space can I use here? I totally agree with Jane and somewhere along the way I suppose I should have my mom to thank for raising me right although she tells everyone even STILL at 41.5 years old, that I raised her. I listen to the Dom & Jane Show religiously and I agree and tend to not agree about a lot of things but in the GRAND SCHEME of things it boils down to the individual in how the perceive themselves and maybe how others perceive you but really that shouldn’t be the ultimate way YOU should live YOUR life. We are all on this earth for such a short while. Some make the best of it and some don’t. I used to care SO MUCH about what others thought about me until I had children and I got to thinking PDQ that all of the sudden life is NOT all about me and I must be in control of my OWN destiny and not care so much about what others think of me. I answer only to myself, my immediate family and God, all in that order. I choose to listen more NOW than I would ever admit in my teens, 20’s, and even early 30’s. I feel sorry for those who rely on everyone else and have zero desire to be accountable for their own actions and stop flippin whining about your life and why it sucks! Get a job it you are unemployed, feed your family if they are hungry, pay your bills if you HAVE a job and stop flippin whining. Look at the Rocky Mountains and see the beauty in what is around you OR if you have no mountains, then find some place that is a sanctuary for YOU and not necessarily for EVERYONE else. P.S. And don’t run for office, there are too many politically INCORRECT politicians from the east coast to the west. Open a 7-11 chain or fast food and get a life. “Go sell crazy somewhere else, we are all stocked up here.” And I quote Jack Nicholson as Melvin Udall in “As Good As It Gets”

    Comment by Wendi | February 17, 2011 | Reply

  8. TYPO above… sorry… “Get a job IF you are unemployed…feed your family…” etc….

    Comment by Wendi | February 17, 2011 | Reply

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