Always be in control. If you’re not in control of your life, someone or something else is. And that’s usually not to your advantage. Because it’s your life–not someone or something else’s. You need control.
Now, there are two ways of being in control. One is by doing something. The other is by doing nothing. Both require lots of effort.
Doing something is for when there’s some particular order and sense to what is happening around you. Okay, admittedly that doesn’t happen very often in this life. But at least enough order and sense that you can figure, “If I do this, this will most likely happen, but if I do that…” So do this or that. Or something. Because if you don’t do something to affect the world around you, the world around you will do something to affect you. It’s your choice–either you’re in control of your world, or your world is in control of you.
Then there’s another situation. This is when you’ve done whatever makes sense, but things are going so nuts it’s all out of your hands. At times there comes a point where you need to employ a new, radical and totally counter-intuitive strategy. It’s called: Do nothing.
Now, by doing nothing, I don’t mean hiding under your blankets with your thumb in your mouth. I mean a kind of doing nothing that takes more confidence, more focus and more wherewithal than any sort of doing something. I mean a heroic doing nothing.
Take the experience of freefall. Let’s say I would try to do something about the fact that I am falling through the sky at 300 miles per hour towards the hard ground, but it’s not the time to do anything. I might decide to deploy my parachute. Or I might panic, start hyperventilating and get cramps. Or maybe just start crying, call my mom on my cell phone and get her all upset, too. Anything I would do at this point to deal with the situation would be totally counter-productive and might even really mess things up real bad. My mom might not let me go sky diving ever again.
Better to stay calm, enjoy the scenery, and wait for the vital point when you need to bend your legs and land with ease.
In life, it’s more than that. In life, by doing nothing, and doing it with utter calm and serenity, you are rearranging the cosmic order. You are making a statement that there is absolutely nothing to worry about because everything is entirely in the hands of your Maker, and He certainly has prepared a parachute. And by making that statement you cause it to be true.
This is an ancient tradition of the Kabbalists: that even if a person was meant to go in one direction and he’s not going that way, but on totally the opposite path, so much so that all the angels are screaming, “Oygevald! He’s totally off track! There’s just no way to help him through this” (because angels are assigned to help people get through difficult situations, but they can’t do that if he’s going in in totally the wrong direction) –if he shows complete and utter confidence that the Maker of the Universe will take care of him (as long as it’s not one of those paths with the big signs that say Wrong Way and he took it anyways. I mean there are limits…)–then He-Who-Knows-All-and-Runs-Everything will rearrange the entire cosmic order just to make the wrong path this guy took into the right path.
Imagine yourself a small child, walking through the park with your dad, when thunder and lightning and a sudden downpour of rain begin to strike. You don’t flinch, you show no signs of fear. You look up to your dad and your face says it all: “My dad will take care of me. I have nothing to fear.”
So when your dad sees that look on your face, he delivers. He picks you up, tucks you under his jacket and runs you home safe and sound. Who made your dad into such a great dad? You did–with your trust in him. As Wordsworth wrote, “The child is the father of the man.”
Bet you didn’t know Wordsworth was a Kabbalist.