Commusings: Nothing is in Control by Light Watkins

Jun 05, 2021

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Hello Commune Community,

Does happiness feel perpetually like tomorrow’s conditional promise?

If only, and only if, I get this house, that job, a new relationship, [fill in the blank], then I will be perfumed with the scent of contentment. But no sooner than we receive that new plaque on the door or cut the ribbon off the box, a novel threshold is set and our happiness is again deferred and the chase begins anew.

Well, if you’ve been working all your life for the eventual payout of happiness, your moment has arrived because you cannot be happy in the future. Happiness is the providence of the everlasting now.

Today’s essayist, dear friend and spiritual nomad, Light Watkins, is a living testament to “process as product.” He’s been living out of a backpack for two years, traveling, writing, and interviewing people. He reminds us that we don’t need to manifest any thing into our lives, we simply need to manifest who we already are — in this moment. And again in this one.

Always here at [email protected] or follow my musings on IG @jeffkrasno.

In love, include me,

• • •

Nothing Is in Control

by Light Watkins


"Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God."
— A Course in Miracles

That quote reminds me of a wonderful little indy film I watched years ago called Twice Upon A Yesterday. It's about a struggling, functioning-alcoholic actor who serially cheats on his live-in girlfriend.

After realizing that he’s been taking his girlfriend for granted for far too long, he decides to cut the shenanigans. But she’s been tipped off about the cheating and confronts him. He reluctantly confesses, and she storms out.

Then comes the montage where he gets his shit together, sobers up, and tries to win her back, only to discover that she's moved on with a new guy from her gym.

Meanwhile, the actor crosses paths with a mysterious gang of gypsies who invoke a spell that magically turns back the clock to that moment when his girlfriend confronted him about the cheating. This time, instead of confessing, he denies it emphatically and lavishes her with kisses and adoration.

So she drops the question, and the relationship is miraculously saved.

Except... remember the guy from the gym? The girlfriend ends up meeting him a week later at a work function. And over the following weeks, they flirt, they sneak around, and she ends up being the one cheating on her boyfriend. In the end, the relationship is still over.

The older I get, the more I’ve wondered about ideas like fate and destiny, and whether some things are just meant to be. And if we had a chance to go back and play it a different way, would the outcome really change?

The conclusion that I’m currently favoring is no, the outcome would not be different. And if something is meant to be—good or bad—it will happen, and there's really not much anyone can do to stop it.

Conversely, if it’s not meant to be, there’s not much I can do to white-knuckle my way into making it happen.

The ancient yogis referred to this passive approach to change as “surrendering.” Surrendering to what is. But for some of us type-A, hard-work-equals-success types, surrendering is often viewed as a cop-out—a red flag that we’re giving up on our goals and dreams.

However, I like to treat it more as a giving in, or a trusting that where I am is exactly where I’m meant to be. And the more I resist it, the more self-generated friction I will inevitably cause.

In the meantime, I’m happy to keep exploring what my inner guidance is saying, following my heart, and going along for whatever adventure it takes me on—while remaining as non-attached to the outcome as possible, whether it aligns with my preferences or not.

In other words, no matter how many vision boards and manifestation exercises I attempt, I’ve relented to the fact that I’m ultimately not in control over what’s meant to be or what’s not meant to be.

My job as a human being is to refine my ability to be non-attached to whatever is showing up in my life at the moment.

For instance, I remember writing a letter to myself one New Year’s Eve where I listed twelve goals I envisioned achieving over the course of that following year. I wrote it affirmation-style, as though the goals had already been achieved, just like one learns in manifesting class.

Don’t say, “I want to be in the best shape of my life,” because that communicates a lack of strength and you will inadvertently manifest out-of-shapeness. No, you must write, “I am in the best shape of my life,” as if it’s already happening, because we’re effectively calling it into existence.

So in my letter, I included personal goals: “I bought my Mom a house.” She happened to be living with my younger brother at the time and was desperate to move into her own place.

“I am romantically involved with a partner who is beautiful both inside and out.” (There were more qualities on my list, but we don’t need to get into those specifics right now).

“I earned half a million dollars.” Who are we kidding? I didn’t believe I could earn that much teaching by meditation, but the instructions are to think big! So why impose a limit on my earning potential?

Having already self-published one book, I had written a proposal for my next book—so naturally, I added “I am a New York Times bestseller.”

I also threw in some service goals for good measure: “I am volunteering with incredible organizations.” And of course we had to do something about my lower belly fat: “I am leaner, with a six-pack.”

All in all, I felt great about my list. It wouldn’t be easy, but with some determination and a little universal manifestation magic, I felt confident that everything on there was reasonably achievable.

I sealed the envelope and even mailed it to myself. When the letter came back in the mail, I didn’t open it. Instead, I wanted to wait until the New Year. So I hid it in my closet and went on with my life, vaguely remembering the affirmations I had carefully composed.

Well, one year later, on New Year’s Day, I somehow remembered the letter and went fishing for it in the closet. I pulled it out, reminisced about writing it, and then sat down to see how closely my year matched my affirmations.

Surely, my 20 years of daily meditation had to have a huge influence on the strength of my manifestation powers.

But I quickly discovered the reality: my manifestation powers were, how should we say... lacking.

When it came to the house for my Mom, I desperately tried to get approved for a mortgage that year, but my tax returns showed my debt-to-income ratio was too high, so they rejected me...

Relationship-wise, I was more single than a dollar bill that year, and not sure why. I definitely put myself out there, and wasn’t shy about expressing interest in the women I found attractive. But the timing was just off, and I couldn’t find a partner...

Income-wise, I did okay, but my earnings were nowhere near half a million dollars. And that book proposal I wrote was politely rejected by every publisher I approached. .

My six-pack, you could make out if the angle and light were just so, and if you stood back about twenty feet and squinted. But I wouldn’t have been the first to take my shirt off at the pool that year.

I could go on, but the bottom line is, not one thing I wrote down came to fruition. And for the first time in my life, I had an embarrassing paper trail to prove it.

But, guess what? It was still an amazing year. In fact, when I thought about it, that was one of the most impactful years I've ever had before or since.

Sure, none of my affirmations came true, but I developed unexpected friendships with some of the most fascinating people that year (including my father). I was invited to join a group trip to Israel, where I had eye-opening experiences that enhanced my understanding of the world in a way I never saw coming. And I felt that being single taught me how to enjoy my own company.

And there was so much more.

I didn't foresee any of the experiences that ended up mattering the most when I sat to compose my affirmation letter. And after seeing the contrast between what I wanted to happen and what actually ended up happening, I decided that I’m not going to try to predict my future anymore. I’m no longer going to insist on the my-way-or-the-highway approach to manifesting.

It’s not that I don’t feel capable of fighting for whatever I want. I just find the idea of going with the flow much more interesting and adventurous. And if I have a desire to try something new, I’ll of course go with it, and give it my all, but I’ll also leave some wiggle room in the plan just in case it takes me down an unexpected path.

What’s beautiful about that approach is it gives you an opportunity to trust that your inner guidance knows better than your intellect. And what I’ve also found through much trial-and-error is when I stay loyal to my inner guidance, I often get something better than whatever I initially desired.

By that, I’m not referring to something that makes me more comfortable or feel more successful—but something that, in hindsight, turned out to be more relevant to my deeper purpose.

For instance, one could argue that my year of being single helped to better prepare me for the beautiful relationship I eventually entered into the following year.

Waving the benefit of hindsight gives us all an opportunity to trust that life is unfolding as it should. And within that understanding is a rare type of freedom that most people don’t have: Freedom from anxiety. Freedom from regret.

That reminds me of the following quote from Neale Donald Walsch’s Conversations with God: “You can relax to the degree that you trust in life.”

Simply put, if you have no trust that life is on some level working for you, then you will be perpetually anxious. The way to counter it is to surrender any false sense of control over to the understanding that it’s out of our hands anyway. And perhaps, it’s always been out of our hands—manifestation class or not.

Surrendering is hard because we rarely do it. It’s much easier to try to hold on. Because letting go forces us to sit in the uncertainty of knowing we’re not in control, and reckoning with the fact that we’ve never been in control.

Even reading about letting go can be triggering long before it feels liberating, because it goes against our nature. Try taking something from a toddler’s death grip, if you disagree.

It’s also going against our conditioning, which has indoctrinated us to believe that, well beyond our basic needs being met, we need other things and people and experiences in order to be fulfilled.

But despite the challenges, there are some things we can do to help speed the letting-go process along. Mainly, we can exercise our trust muscles. We can trust that if things aren’t going our way, on some level, we’ve evolved beyond what was happening—and that whatever is truly beneficial to our growth will continue to happen.

We can trust that the difficult feelings associated with moving on shall one day pass, perhaps without us even noticing it. And we can trust that we will be presented with new and improved opportunities more appropriate for wherever we currently are on the spectrum of our personal growth and evolution.

And here’s what we might ultimately discover after we truly let go: We can finally see.

We can see the year or an individual situation for what it was (a valuable growth experience). We can see the strength of our heart. And, we can see opportunities that are more aligned with what we want to create for ourselves.

But none of that will be visible until we let go.

Which means, we really only have two choices: We can let go of the illusion of control with an attitude, or we can let go with love in our heart and with the understanding that it's always for the best, and that we have everything we need for taking the next step, whether it looks like it or not.

• • •

Light Watkins, Author of Knowing Where to Look: 108 Daily Doses of Inspiration.

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