Who Knows If It’s Good or Bad?
This past week I learned that I did not get the Master Trainer role at LifeTime Fitness.
Putting in for this role, taking a leap towards a big dream of mine of training teachers, was a huge milestone. Even being considered for this role – not only applying but being asked to submit videos of my classes and being called back for a virtual facilitation was a pretty big deal. And, looking back, I’m proud I threw myself into this fire, but I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t struggling. I am. Big time.
Disappointment is one of life’s most uncomfortable feelings. It’s complex and rampant with a subset of other emotions like anger, regret, hurt and sadness – not to mention the array of emotions that are too subtle to identify.
Emotions by themselves can be easier to diffuse and deal with, but disappointment is full of loose ends, ends we’re desperately trying to weave together so that we can create order and a sense of meaning in our lives.
When situations don’t turn out like we expected and we want to know “what it means”, we’ll find ourselves asking,
What do I do now?
How will others perceive me?
What will my life look like as a result of this?
In my own attempt to string together my loose ends of disappointment, I found myself asking,
What if I never become a Master Trainer?
Do I have to go somewhere else to pursue this dream?
What would happen if I stayed where I am for the time being – if I was patient and trusted the process?
I’d love to tell you disappointment gives you answers and that tying up those loose ends allows you to leap frog over the difficult emotions.
Instead, it requires you to lean in and feel it all.
It requires you to stop constantly interpreting and attaching meaning to every single thing that happens – to remember that at any moment, we’re just seeing a tiny aspect of the vast tapestry that is constantly being woven in our lives.
When I got the news last week, it hit like a ton of bricks and I’m still reeling from the blow, allowing myself to feel the anger, regret, sadness and disappointment – and to be honest, I will probably allow myself to just feel it all for a little while longer. It’s a lot to navigate and process.
But, at some point soon (and likely with the magic of my life coach), I’ll need to call up inner vigilance – I’ll need to consciously and deliberately choose to practice curiosity and release control of needing to make anyone right or wrong, or of simply needing to have all the answers.
This is work I believe we are all called to do at some point in our lives. And it sucks. And it’s hard. And there will be times we avoid answering this call, at least initially, because it’s uncomfortable AF. Our brains are wired for certainty and our souls ache for clarity, which makes leaning into uncertainty and curiosity some kind of spiritual black belt stuff. Bottom line: it goes against our built-in instinct to have it all figured out.
Deeply surrendering, practicing humility, and being willing to sit in the well of uncertainty, not really knowing what’s going to happen or what our next step should be – even trusting that this difficult moment we’re in doesn’t have to mean anything and that perhaps the universe is still in our favor – are all acts full of power.
The work isn’t easy, but it’s critical if we want to start living our lives again.
For me, it turns out I won’t be a Master Trainer at LifeTime anytime soon, or ever – who knows. This situation is a powerful reminder that I’m simply not in control, and that I don’t have to be. It’s a reminder that it’s OK to not be OK and to feel it all – and boy am I there! It’s also the reminder that I don’t need to have all the answers. If and when it’s time to give up the dream – if and when it’s time to leave where I am – I’ll know…but I don’t have to react and have the answers today.
Who ever knows if the things that happen in our lives are good or bad. I certainly don’t. And we can either roar at the universe about the injustice of “this thing”, or we can take a breath and acknowledge that we don’t really know what this situation is here for.
Perhaps one day I’ll look back and think, Ah, this is the gift that came out of this situation but for now it’s irrelevant and unnecessary. There’s only one thing that’s certain and that is that life is constantly unfolding.
Fable of the Wise Farmer
There was once a wise farmer, who, with his wife, had a small piece of land and one horse. One day, the horse managed to jump the fence and ran away to freedom.
The farmer’s nosy neighbor sidled up to the fence, leaned on it conspiratorially, tutting and shaking his head. “You had just one horse,” said the neighbor, “and now he’s gone. Such bad luck!”
The wise farmer nodded slowly, taking in his neighbor’s words. “Well, who knows if it’s good or bad?”
The next day, the wise farmer’s horse miraculously reappeared, except that he wasn’t alone: in tow was a second, wild horse.
The neighbor hurried over excitedly, jabbering away. “You had one horse, then you lost it, and now you have two! This is such good luck!”
The farmer smiled sagely before replying, “Who knows if it’s good or bad?”
The following day, the farmer’s only son took on the job of breaking in the wild horse. The horse bucked, throwing the son to the ground and breaking his leg.
“Tut, tut, tut,” the neighbor muttered in dismay, “What a week! You lose a horse, get it back, gain an extra horse and now your only son, your only help on the farm, is injured! This is such terrible, terrible luck.”
Once again the wise farmer shrugged his shoulders, utterly non-committal. “Who knows if it’s good or bad?”
A week later, the army marched through town, conscripting all and any young men for military duty. The farmer’s son, in a cast and on crutches, was not required to go to war.
The neighbor exhaled in relief upon hearing the news. “Oh, what good luck for you and your family! Your son doesn’t have to go to war! Such good luck.”
Of course, the farmer responded in only the way he could…
“Who knows if it’s good or bad?”