Mixed messages abound in our culture.  In particular the messages around achievement.  Regardless of the end goal, the messages we are given talk about hard work, setting clear specific goals, being detail oriented, don’t take no for an answer, never give up, make a plan and stick to it, never take your eye off the ball, etc, etc, etc.  Meanwhile all the teachers and wise people talk in almost opposite terms:  Let go and let God, trust in the Divine presence, open yourself to something bigger than you are, you can’t know the entire plan so just do what you can, follow your bliss…I’m sure you could supply dozens more.

So which is it?  Take charge, be driven, work hard and never vary off course or let go of the reigns and let some version of Divinity lead you by the nose vaguely through a meandering course to who knows where, but trust us it will be grrrreat!  To both of those I say Bah!

Nothing is so simple and no one way is for everyone, but for me I think there has to be an amazing amount of life to be lived in between those poles.  Every variation of a mixture of those two must be valid and I have a suspicion that there are variations unique to each and every one of us and variations within that for all the situations we get into in life.  So, while I know all the educated and experienced people are well-meaning when they give me advice, but I like to set aside the tried and true quick phrases and look for the Unexpected.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely a planner, work hard at it type who wants to go from A-L in a straight line and get the result I’m looking for.  Which is why life is always full of surprises for me, because it rarely works that way.  However, no matter how much you plan, if you can’t be flexible, you won’t survive and you certainly won’t reach your goal.  Or possibly any goal.  And who wants to be stuck on the road.

Being a bit of a SciFi/Fantasy buff I like to look to the Lord of the Rings as a good example of this.  Pick a character, really any character and you will see good and bad examples of this.  There’s a goal they want to achieve, they make a plan, they attempt to execute the plan (or each other, whatever) and they succeed or fail not just because of magic or predestination, but also because they are flexible enough to be in the moment, to recognize their assumptions, to be hit with the Unexpected, and to work with that to help them continue on their journey.  It isn’t without risk or damage, they are all very different people at the end, the goal may not have ended up being what they actually wanted or even what they thought it would be, but those that made it did so because they dealt with the Unexpected, as well as did a lot of other things right and had luck and good timing and good friends….

Be open to the Unexpected.  Whether that means meeting something on your path that was unplanned for, or being led to a path that makes you plan, or being given a plan that you need to follow.  Be flexible, be open, the journey is the important part and what will make you who you are.  Because we are rarely, in any given moment, fully who we can be and in the process of learning that we might find out something Unexpected…about ourselves…