“Make the best use of what is in your power and take the rest as it happens.” ~Epictetus
I am in an unfamiliar place and I find myself waiting. It is not clear who or what I am waiting for. I then hear a gentle tapping at the door. I approach the door, but stand before it in silence.
My pulse quickens as I wait. I make no attempt to answer the knock until a voice whispers, “It is me.” This is when I open the door.
I awoke from this dream feeling a bit unsettled. I could not remember the exact quality of the voice. Whether it was male or female remains a mystery. But I did recognize this dream as a metaphor for all that was happening in this particular period of my life.
I was faced with a life-altering decision—something I had emphatically said “no” to at an earlier time. My best childhood friend had offered to be a gestational surrogate for my husband and me after multiple miscarriages and two pre-term birth losses, but I wouldn’t even consider it.
That is not the way nature intendedit, was my initial thought. A child should be created out of love, I had said in response to her offer.
In time, my perspective began to shift and I recognized that this was truly an act of love. A trusted friend was willing to help me in bringing a desired child into the world. Why would I not accept this beautiful gift?
It was easier for my husband to come to this decision than it was for me. I had to replace a long-held dream—the natural childbirth experience I had once imagined.
This would also be the ultimate lesson in letting go. So much would be beyond my control.
After months of introspection, research, guidance, and prayer, it then felt right to walk through this new door that had opened up to us.
Saying yes to this process was creating an opportunity for new life. It was an opening to another experience that the hand of life was extending in my direction.
Still, there was much uncertainty in daring to venture onto this new path of assisted reproduction. The series of legal and medical steps seemed enormous before we actually experienced them. But each step leading up to the actual procedure went better than expected.
Now after two unsuccessful outcomes, I have had to again re-adjust to a different reality than the one I had come to embrace. It has been a process—releasing what should have been in order to accept what is.
“The odds are in your favor,” the doctor had originally said. I knew there were no guarantees, but I hadn’t truly considered this daunting possibility. Why then was I led down this road of uncertainty?
I have come to see that at times there is no definite answer to the question “why?” Life is not a straight, newly paved highway where we can clearly see in the distance. Even when we intuitively get a glimpse of what’s ahead, we still have to deal with how best to get to where we hope to be.
Instead, life appears to be more of a dance with its twists and turns. There is a rhythm and flow to each step, even though we may not yet be comfortable with all the transitions. Each movement leads to a fuller expression of our greatest potential.
How do we best learn this dance? Experience is the greatest teacher I know. Still, we need guidance. Life is not a solo act.
Here are five guiding principles to assist you in your dance with uncertainty:
1. Practice integrity, intention, and purpose.
That is the basic choreography. It requires that you pay close attention to your beliefs, thoughts, words, choices, and actions. What lends purpose and meaning to your life? Natural talent matters, but practice is what develops skill.
Integrity: Be honest in all aspects of your life. Seek to know who you are and who you ultimately want to be.
Intention: Be clear about what you most desire and take steps in the direction of your dreams.
Purpose: Know why you want this new reality. Does it add meaning to your life?
2. Be flexible.
See every challenging step as an occasion to stretch. Stand tall as you grow in resilience. Breathe deeply and rise to the occasion when presented with new choreography.
3. Know when to “freestyle.”
Freestyle is improvisational dance. We are creative beings and while there are necessary steps to be taken, there is still plenty of room for spontaneity and artistic expression.
Take risks and embrace your unique style. You might step on a few toes, but always remain true to what is essential in you.
4.Trust your partner.
Whether you practice a traditional religion or view spirituality in universal terms, trust life to lead the way. Unleash your greatest effort and then relax into the arms of grace.
Know that there is divine order to this dance we call life. Whatever is meant to happen, will. Whatever is meant to be, will be. Do what is within your power and surrender the rest.
5. Enjoy the dance.
Life is meant to be fun. Lighten up and release the need to get it right the first time. Perfection is subjective and trophies collect dust. Laugh at yourself and keep moving. It will all come together. At times, better than you expected.