When Life Has Other Plans

Things in my life this fall haven’t gone exactly according to plan.

Times like these have happened before, and it is always something that I struggle with. I usually think that if things don’t go the way I think they should, that I have somehow “failed” – that it is always somehow “my fault”. That nagging voice in my head tells me that I should have planned better, pushed myself more, “made things happen”. It doesn’t help that there are a lot of these motivational clichés floating around these days. To be successful, popular wisdom says we need to work harder than the next guy, we need to hustle, and “own it” and be masters of our destinies.

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Often, that kind of advice can be the little motivational boost that we need. Sometimes we DO need to push harder, hustle and own it. But now and then, no matter how hard we push, things Just. Don’t. Happen. Sometimes, we have to let go.

It’s not an easy lesson to learn.

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When I moved to Niagara, I told myself I wouldn’t continue to live like I had in the city. The constant pressures I felt there were to keep up with a super fast pace, keep producing constantly, keep on top of my competitors, and above it all keep smiling, pushing, and going at 150%. This way of life burned me out in Toronto, and I have to admit, those familiar ways of operating have been sneaking their way back into my life again.

So maybe that’s why things haven’t been going according to plan. Maybe I finally need to “get” this lesson, and leave those old patterns in the past. Until I do, I’m sure I’ll be provided with opportunities to learn this.

Pushing, forcing, and over-exerting have never brought me results I truly wanted. It’s just made me exhausted, anxious, and depressed, feeling like nothing I did was ever “good enough”.

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Perhaps the best way to start to change this is to try and relax a bit. To trust in perfect timing. Trust that it’s okay – and good – to take a break sometimes, that I don’t need to will everything I have planned into my existence right this very second. Maybe when things go awry, I should step back and just give them some time.

I sound a bit new-agey or something, don’t I. But this approach just might make life a bit sweeter.

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I have a lot of work to do on this, of course. It’s one thing to know something logically, and another to actually incorporate it into your life. But one day when I was caught up in the middle of this whirlwind train of thought, Ken suggested a break for an afternoon out. His idea? A relaxed stroll along the White Water Walk.

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There is something about getting out in nature that makes you realize that all that small stuff you’re sweating really is small stuff. Even if there is some big stuff in there too, being outside seems to help you feel it’s a bit more manageable somehow.

Trees don’t worry about growing. The leaves fall when it’s time for them to fall. Water flows where it needs to go. No pushing, forcing, fretting, and yet it reaches its destination in its own perfect timing.

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The Whirlpool Rapids along the walk are incredible. You watch the water rushing by at at about 48 km per hour, and are instantly mesmerized. They are Class 6 rapids, which means that the rapids are not passable, and any attempt to do so would result in serious injury, drowning, or death.

That hasn’t stopped daredevils from attempting it in some manner though. You can find a list of these crazy audacious folks here. But those who’ve braved the rapids did so on a tightrope from above. Even they weren’t stupid enough to try to run them.

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The other incredible view you get is that of the 410-million-year-old rock layers of the Niagara Gorge.

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Four hundred and ten million years old. Puts things a little more into perspective.

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Yes, our lives, worries and goals are certainly important to us. But when you think about how long this world has been around, my little old problems in a 410-million-year gap don’t seem as overwhelming after all.

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That afternoon at the White Water Walk reminded me that things can evolve, change and grow in their own seasons and cycles. In nature, there is no frustration, forcing, or demanding – that seems to be a totally human thing.

My impatience with timing in my life is still a work in progress. Luckily, we have lots of beautiful natural spots I can escape to in Niagara to help me remember this lesson.

**The White Water Walk is closed now for the winter season. If you haven’t been, you should definitely add it to your Niagara Bucket List for next year.