We’ve had some severe stormy weather on and off here in Minnesota over the past week. The other day, while my friend John was visiting, a powerful wind and hailstorm blew in. The storm was an incredible display of nature. It knocked out electricity over a broad area (our home was only without power for 4 hours; other did not have their power restored until the next day) and felled many trees, including two in my yard, which fortunately fell in the wooded area that separates our house from that of our neighbor and therefore did no damage to either house. One was a tall, beautiful, healthy tree, that was sheared off about twenty feet up, literally splintering the wood.
As I reflected on the storm – and how it disrupted our plans to visit the Japanese garden at the aboretum that afternoon, not to mention the water that came in the house becuase we had gone out leaving windows open in various rooms – I thought about the illusion of power and control we often live with. We think we can carefully plan and organize things so that they proceed in accordanced with our desires. Storms like this bring a reminder that there are real limits to our ability to control things. Despite our best laid plans, power goes out, trees go down, we can’t go someplace we planned to go – and there is nothing we can do to change any of it.
We can, of course, allow ourselves to be unhappy about our lack of total control and miserable about the fact that things happen that disrupt our plans. Or we can just relax into humble acceptance of the limits of our power and control and recognize that our plans are only and always tentative ones.