I’m headed to Italy in a couple of days to lead a retreat. (I know, poor me.) It’s been rather comical watching my mind—still unused to the idea of international travel—go through its wild machinations these last couple of weeks as I prepare for the trip. I’ve anticipated every imaginable disaster. Last night I found myself awake in the middle of the night making lists, trying to stave off some catastrophe or other. This morning I said lovingly, but bluntly, “Jurian, nothing is going to go according to plan.”

This was a strangely welcome relief to my nervous system. “Nothing is going to go according to plan.” There will be challenges for sure, but it’s unlikely they’ll be the ones I’ve anticipated. And, as I seem to have forgotten, some things will go far better! The best thing I can do is to show up relaxed and ready to ride the waves—as unflappable as possible in any moments of difficulty and ready to see the unexpected blessings when they come. This is how I can best support myself and those around me. Not by foreseeing every worst case scenario, but by being a steady, easeful presence in each moment.

If these last two years have taught us anything, it’s that life will probably not go as we expect. We can spend our energy striving, vainly, to anticipate every single disaster, or we can focus our efforts on becoming people who are capable of riding the waves of whatever comes—composed in difficult times and full of gratitude in the trouble-free ones.

If this sounds like a direction you’d like to move in, come practice with me. Because like anything else we want to get better at, that’s what it takes—practice.

Photo by David Mayhew