Musings: The Art of Free Falling


control

“Life is not a substance, like water or a rock; it’s a process like fire or a wave crashing on the shore.. Our moments are brief against the expanse of eternity.” — Sean Carroll, The Big Picture

You are the master of your destiny. The slick war cry of the larger-than-life motivational speakers peddling self-empowerment to the lost. But even the powerful are not immune to the inevitable – illness, death, disaster. And as much as we’d like to congratulate ourselves on our seeming invincibility, I’m going to say something unpopular.

You don’t have as much control of your life as you think.

How else do you explain perfectly innocent people who do good things, follow all the rules and somehow still meet with tragedy or suffer a lifetime of hardship? Starving children, people delivered right into the heart of war, tragic accidents, natural disasters. Every one of us is at the mercy of a far greater force. For better or for worse, the hand you’re dealt in life is simply determined by a roll of the cosmic dice.

Now that bitter pill might cause a lump in your throat at first, but let it settle and you’ll find the idea quite liberating. Fortune is fickle. Whatever we enjoy today – love, comfort, a good life – is a gift that can be taken away at any minute. Once we stop trying to control the things that are beyond our reach, we can find the time and space to  truly appreciate everything we have right this moment.

People always say, “Each time you fall, just dust yourself and get right up.” But what if life is one long free fall? Every day, we careen into the unknown. We make do with what we have, stumble with our limited knowledge in the direction of goodness, and hope for the best. But it doesn’t mean we’re helpless or passive. We can take charge of our happiness by cultivating a spirit of constant gratitude and compassion for others. That brings a deep, simple joy no one can take from you, however little you have.

Obsessing over taking complete control of your life or that of others is unchecked hubris. It can only lead to misery. It may sound counter-intuitive to accept our relative insignificance in the big scheme of things. But in time, it’ll actually give us a much more accurate benchmark for our expectations. And having realistic expectations of yourself and the world around you will bring you that often elusive peace of mind.

So when you find yourself struggling to stay afloat, stop thrashing. Instead, just lie back, go with the flow and enjoy the ride.

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18 thoughts on “Musings: The Art of Free Falling

  1. I’m totally digging your philosophy. Life is one big free fall, and we will be lucky to glance a few gentle branches on the way down. And you are so dead on to say that your points are not ones for depression, but for acceptance. So many people seem to be so concerned with fixing themselves and working on this and working on that; that they miss the essence of being. GREAT write, I appreciated this effort very much this morning.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoyed reading your work, today,and thank you. I have a daughter who, it seems can not get a break in life. She is bright and yet makes poor decisions while always attempting self-improvement. I wish that she did not struggle so to “fix” things. My heart aches for her. Thank you. I’m glad that I clicked on your picture and found your article. Peace upon you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing this. I can only imagine how much you must worry as a mother. But like you said, your daughter is very bright and it’s only a matter of time before things will work themselves out. When we’re younger, it’s always a bit more of a struggle, especially when we don’t have the benefit of experience and hindsight like you do. She’s lucky to have a caring mother like you. And sometimes, all we need is that unconditional love. ❤

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  4. Thought-provoking post. Some of the happiest faces are those I have encountered high up on remote mountain trails… far from the daily intrusions of our modern world. Even better if we wander into places with “no service’. Feeling very small in large, natural settings sparks a feeling of “awe” and, perhaps, we can forget that dreadful feeling of free falling, if at least not for a day.

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