So much change is going on… families moving house, children moving across country, partners getting (or quitting) jobs, dear ones suddenly leaving Earth, creative dreams with a new foothold in this realm, not to mention all the world chaos that makes it to the news. There’s hardly been a dull moment in this year of disruption, and we’re not even half way through it! Sometimes we observe the chaos from a distance, only to find it at the front door tomorrow, upending our tenuous equilibrium with another wave of change. Then comes “Oh crap, how am I going to sort this out?” followed by the whisper of a cheeky angel, “All is well, just allow.”
Sometimes I grumble… “Sure, it’s easy for them to ‘just allow’ – they don’t have a body that goes haywire for no apparent reason, a roof over their etheric heads that must be paid for, or a brain that tends to empty itself mid-sentence!” Sometimes all this allowing business just doesn’t make sense to the human. We, after all, have tasks to accomplish, deadlines to meet and things we’d like to remember. Oh, and enlightenment to figure out too. Allowing will be easy once we get there, right? Except that’s not how it works.
The other day I found a helpful way to look at it…
Many years ago I knew someone who’s hobby was radio controlled (RC) cars. These aren’t the little playthings you can get at most any toy store; they are intricate 1/10th size automobiles that hobbyists spend hours and hours customizing, upgrading, fixing and yes, driving. There was – and still is – a whole culture around RC cars, the highlight being the monthly races where drivers get together at special tracks and race their cars for prizes, trophies and bragging rights. It’s serious business!
Here’s how I remember a typical race day: Several dozen drivers, with friends and families in tow, converge at the track in early morning, some having come from hours away. During the previous weeks they’ve spent many hours working on their little cars, giving them creative paint jobs, upgrading the suspension that might have broken last time, and disassembling and reassembling them several times to get everything just right. Now the batteries are charging and radio frequencies have been assigned while drivers decide which set of tires to use for this particular track and go through a final check of all the miniature gear. Finally, everything is ready for the first race.
After placing their cars at the start line, the racers climb up to the driver’s stand, a platform high above the track where they can see the entire racecourse. The starting sequence lights up, the buzzer sounds and they’re off – drivers furiously twiddling knobs and levers on their radios as the little cars zoom around the track. Those who aren’t racing this round act as spotters, standing at critical places along the racecourse to watch for cars that wipe out at a jump or roll over at a corner. They’ll dash onto the track, careful not to step on any little cars whizzing by, and set the stranded one back on its wheels so it can keep going. The clock is counting down, the judges are watching laps, and in a few short minutes the first race is over. There’s lots of cheering and hollering, and the drivers head back to their tables to fix and tweak their machinery before the next round.
It’s all great fun, even when the cars get busted up and have to drop out of the race. The whole point is to get together and experience the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat, the challenge of the track and the creative satisfaction of keeping the little machines in top working order.
Of course an RC car doesn’t have a steering wheel or gas and brake pedals like a full size car, but imagine for a moment that it does. Now imagine each hobbyist putting a miniature human-shaped bit of itself in the driver’s seat. The little human finds himself at the starting line on race day, and is soon careening along the track at breakneck speed. He does his best to get around the corners, avoid the dangers and make it to the finish line in one piece. Sometimes, in spite of his best efforts, the car goes completely out of control and crashes, but within moments it’s going again, and he’s trying to get it right this time. He really wants to to a good job because this is important! Surely there’s a trophy somewhere with his name on it, if he can only get through the race. And then something happens and the car goes its own way yet again, regardless of his careful guidance. What’s going on?
Well, what’s going on is beyond his ability to comprehend. The real driver is up in the stand, happily fiddling with the controls, shouting in glee as the car slides through hairpin turns and sails over the jumps that, to the little mini driver, look like the end of life as he knows it. Well… you can see where this is going.
My human self is like that little driver who found itself at the wheel in a crazy, hectic race. Somehow she knows these are the Finals and wants to do a really good job. But, no matter how hard she tries to get it right, things still happen that she can’t explain. In fact, all her tugging on the miniature steering wheel sometimes seems to make no difference at all. If she’s lucky and makes it around a turn at breakneck speed without flipping over, she thinks, “Aha, I’m finally figuring it out!” only to crash into something a moment later. Then she gets all dejected to still be “screwing up.” What she doesn’t know is that the real driver, that soul up in the stand, has developed steady fingers and clear eyes and knows exactly where it’s going. And still she goes skidding around the turns a little too fast, just for the fun of it. The dear little human in the car is there to provide a bug’s eye view of the whole experience, not to do the navigating.
Of course, now I can see the idiocy of trying to navigate life from such a limited perspective. And I’m (usually) more willing to let go of the wheel and enjoy the ride when I remember who’s actually driving. My efforts never had much effect anyway, but it was fun to think they did.
This little metaphor has been especially helpful in dealing with other people. Particularly people I feel responsible for (like my children) and people whose choices I just don’t understand (like everyone else). I don’t have to worry if they’re getting it right or wrong, because they too have an expert (or amateur) driver up in the stands who is relishing every single moment of the adventure. The human can’t really mess it up, and even if their car/life does flip over and break apart, the soul doesn’t really care. It’s having a blast no matter what.
The more I think about it this way, the easier it becomes to trust. Just this morning I was breathing, doing the 60-Second Workout and, of course, trying to get it right – “Maybe if I connect clearly enough with my body this time, it’ll finally happen.” Then I had to laugh at my dear, efforting human. She knows the finish line is just around the next corner (or maybe the one after that) and she’s straining to make the turn, certain that if she focuses just a little harder she’ll finally get there. And there’s my soul, up on the platform, simply thrilled with the experience. From here on, any effort the human tries to exert will just be interference. It won’t stop the race, but won’t make it go any faster either. It seems a far more delightful choice to take my hands off the wheel, enjoy the scenery on this final lap, and let myself coast on home.
How ironic that I’ve tried so hard to allow, as if it’s one more thing I have to get right in order to get across the finish line. But the funny thing is, that finish line is a moving target. My soul is having so much fun she might not be ready to stop playing. What she really wants now is to know what it’s like to ride around in this little car, feeling the wind on my face as I tear around the track through the mud and the grit. She’s been up there in the driver’s stand all this time, but we’re creating a new connection now. Instead of ending the race and dragging me back home, she can actually come along with me! And, because the connection goes both ways, I’m beginning to glimpse the track from her perspective and realize there’s so much more to reality than this bloody obstacle course!
I’m finally ready to take my hands off the wheel, my feet off the pedals, roll down the window and watch the world go by. She’s got this, which means I’m going to be just fine. Even if the changes keep coming – the car flips over again, gets stuck in the ditch or breaks an axle – it’s all part of the fun. It’s time to allow – allow her to drive and allow myself to relish every single moment on my way home. I’ll get there soon enough.