What if we were just to let go?

During an audition my youngest son was asked to do an improvisation. Afterwards, when I asked him if it had been hard to deliver a performance on the spot, he just shrugged his shoulders and said ‘Not really – I mean, isn’t life itself one big improvisation?’

I was shocked. After more than 50 years of trying to understand what life is all about, I hear my teenager just casually spitting out an observation that is the key to everything! Or at least to a lot of things…

Life really IS one big improvisation! We think we can plan and control everything, but how often do things actually work out the way we intended? Almost never. And every time things don’t turn out the way we planned, we need to improvise, change direction, find new solutions, adjust expectations. Things almost always turn out pretty well in the end, sometimes even better than originally planned; our best ideas and most creative solutions seem to be born when we are caught off-guard. 

We all know this, but for some reason keep ignoring it. We continue to plan scrupulously, for tomorrow, for the summer, for the perfect wedding, for our pension. We try to think of all the possible worst case scenarios and try to prepare detailed plans for those as well. 

Along the way we worry sick; what if this happens, what if that happens, what if, what if, what if…?? And we keep going on about it day and night, because somehow we believe that we lose control the moment we stop thinking about it. 

All it takes is a snow storm, an airline strike, a broken-down car, a kid with gastro-enteritisor a volcano spitting out ash to make our plans crumble. So often something happens that we could not have imagined even in our wildest dreams and all the well-thought-out and meticulously composed plans collapse like a house of cards. 

However, not planning at all doesn’t really sound feasible either. It will be pretty much impossible to go on vacation without booking flights in advance, buy a house without a financial forecast or plan a wedding without a schedule. And back-up plans do have their charm; how nice is it to have a plan B for that outdoor picnic, when it starts raining cats and dogs the moment you step outside? 

But maybe we should stop overthinking every detail and worrying about everything that could go wrong. We should stop lying awake at night trying to prepare for every possible worst case scenario that we can come up with and just happily accept the challenge to improvise. 

The question that remains of course is HOW to let go of all the worrying and overthinking and just have faith in our ability to come up with a solution when it really matters… I will consult my teenage guru and get back to you on that one!