Often life is just not going to play out as we expect. I have this fairy tale that runs in my head about the way my life should be with everyone in my life having an assigned role. The problem is they don’t ever play the assigned role. I have expectations that let me down. I know the way things are, I just don’t want to accept it, no matter how much foot stomping I do, the outcome will be as it should.
I struggle to accept that life is going to go at its own pace regardless of how much I try to bring about change. This could range from how people treat me, family relationships, business interactions, a medical report, and any other situation I find myself in that I dislike. I need to get comfortable with accepting my circumstances and the outcome, when it happens. When I am sitting with that gut-wrenching desire to strike out and force change I remember what someone once said to me; Play the ball where the monkey drops it. There is a lot of potential healing in that phrase.
Just where did this saying come from? The origins are traced back to colonial times when the British, living in India tried playing golf, only to have their games completely upended by monkeys. Total chaos would ensue as the monkeys would wait, then chase down the golf balls, take them and then drop them elsewhere on the course. This drove the golfers crazy. They tried everything to stop this behavior; posting guards, trapping them, building fences, nothing worked to control, the situation. The monkeys kept coming back. The golfers learned to live with it.
In the book, Play the Ball Where the Monkey Drops it: Why We Suffer and How Can We Cope, by Gregory K. Jones, the book helps readers advance through the stages of acceptance over their circumstances, while gaining wisdom over the things in life that are out of our control. For me, I must accept certain close relationships will not work out, it makes me very sad to admit this. The book touches on how we view misery that comes with sadness. How often do we walk around saying, I have a miserable life? What we really are reacting to are situations we cannot control. This can cloud the good happening simultaneously. In my situation, while I want a relationship to be the way I envision, (part of my fairy tale), it’s not possible in its current state. I must accept where the monkey has dropped my ball.
I am going to embrace this realization as freeing, because I no longer should put energy towards something that only makes me miserable. I have expectations that are not being met, this one is on me. I am accepting where things are, not where I want them to be. I am letting go of the angst and desperation associated with the struggle that comes with my desire to control this relationship. This is very freeing because I can take back all that energy and use it in another area of my life.
I was reminded of this during the children’s sermon in church. The children’s pastor had three children conduct a little experiment. Walk backwards looking at a mirror to guide you to your destination; moving from the altar to the end of the main aisle. Then repeat it a second time, without the mirror, walking forwards as fast as you can to the same destination. The pastor asked: Which one got you to your destination faster? The point being, when we look to the future through the mirror that takes us backwards, it constricts our view and places more hurdles in our path. Maybe looking backwards, is not the best way to step into our futures. There is freedom in boldly moving ahead, without the burden of controlling what lies in front of us and simply playing the ball where the monkey drops it.