Life keeps on happening, without our control. We are out of control. We don’t even control our own thoughts never mind the world around us. Deep down we know this and numb ourselves to the fear it induces with mindless media, sugary food, or alcohol.
But something magical happens when we stop worrying about our lack of control. We can still take actions, we can still think thoughts, we can still affect the world around us, we just stop worrying about whether things turn out as we expect. We stop piling stress on top of the lack of knowledge of how things will end up.
Rather than inhibiting us, the acknowledgement of our total lack of control makes it easier for us to take action. We stop worrying and do stuff. We enjoy going along for the ride and worry less about where we are going. In doing so we might just get somewhere magical — again and again.
Having a partner with an incurable illness has taught me this empirically: I am someone who likes order, and predictability; snow days weird me out; I get discombobulated when my shaver gets moved to a different shelf or when I can’t find my phone charger where I left it.
Needless to say, introducing cancer into the mix rendered that way of thinking unworkable.
While I can’t make any great claims about calming down about snow days and shavers and phone chargers, I do believe I’ve gained some small amount of “grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed,” and to, as Semple writes, “stop piling stress on top of the lack of knowledge of how things will end up.”