A SIMPLE WAY TO MAKE YOUR LIFE SWEETER

Twenty years ago I held an Art of Being camping vacation in the Kalalau valley on the north shore of Kau’ai, Hawaii. On the day we left, we each buried in the sand where the ocean would eventually claim it, something that we wished to leave behind. I chose to bid farewell to the thing that I had inherited from my mother and had carried with me through all the years. No, it wasn’t an object, though heavier. What was it? WORRYING. My mother, bless her long-gone heart, would show her worry over any and every possible mishap. She did suffer enough domestic disasters to provoke anyone’s anxiety, but she worried on the sunny days too. It was simply how she had herself grown up to approach life – as something to be worried about. I have to confess that burying my own bad habit in Kalalau was not the end of it. Still today I can get busy with things that might go wrong, but noticing the clouds coming in, I catch myself. All I then need to do is whisper to myself the single word that clears my inner sky: “Trust.” Where I find it is simply in letting go as I breathe out, allowing the tensions of worry to dissolve from wherever my body was holding them. And if there is something to take care of, I look after it. Like the old Arab mystic said: “Trust in God, and tie up your camel.” I was reminded of all this reading something that Steve Hansen, coach of New Zealand’s fabulous All Blacks rugby team, said when it was suggested that maybe he was a bit worried about how good the British and Irish Lions team is. “Worry is a waste of emotion,” he replied. “If the thing you’re worrying about has happened, then there’s no point in worrying about it. And if you’re worrying about something that hasn’t happened, then make a plan to fix it so you don’t have to worry about it.” And if you can’t make a plan? Breathe out and trust. It’s just a sweeter way to be in your life.

And the photo? I’m writing this during a short vacation, touring in the Lake District with my best friend and ex-partner, Martina. It’s taken me 73 years to visit this astonishingly enchanting corner of northwest England. We even found time to visit Hadrian’s Wall and drive into Scotland! What can I say to you? Don’t take so long, and above all, don’t miss out on it. Even if you can’t plan it for the foreseeable future, put this on your bucket list!

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