The other night, I sat down at Cafe Gratitude where the entrees are named for affirmations, like “I Am Extraordinary” and “I Am Transcending.” As I looked over the menu, I mumbled, “I’ll have the ‘Humdrum’ with a side of ‘Loser.’” But then, the server approached and asked most seriously: “Our question of the day is: What are you open to receiving?” I could feel my smirk twist into a smile. It takes serious effort to stew in a victim-y pout when you’re asked to chew on a big question like that.
I’ve always been clear about what I want to receive. But what was I open to receiving outside of my narrowly defined path? Not much. And that’s why I was so cranky. I had been presumptuous enough to believe that I knew exactly what I needed to go out and get to be happy, and that the Universe should just oblige me already. But—gasp—maybe I don’t always know what’s best for me.
"Receiving" made me think of gifts, which reminded me of my wedding registry. Five years ago, I was positively giddy about signing up for white towels and pillow shams, things I naively associated with being a "real" grownup. Of course, the wedding presents we'll treasure forever are the ones I didn’t know existed when I was wielding that registry gun. They were unexpected gifts, handmade with love. It made me wonder: If we limit ourselves only to things we know we want in life, then what possibilities are we missing out on?
This time last year, I was more open to receiving. In the midst of a big health scare, I dropped my hyperachieving Tracy Flick act (see video below) and found myself calmer and more at peace. I was diagnosed with a massive, benign, bone-dissolving tumor so I could no longer kid myself into thinking I was in control. During my four-month no-walking recovery, I couldn’t focus on what I wanted to achieve—I couldn’t go out and “do”—so I was more receptive to what came my way. And then, as I got physically better, I became spiritually weaker. I slowly fell back into my old pattern of demanding and expecting from the Universe rather than accepting and receiving.
As I’m coming up on my one-year surgery anniversary, I am vowing to be more available again, to open up, relinquish control, and to allow the light in. The server’s question reminded me to soften and to be open to discovery. Who knows where I’ll be this time next year. If I keep trying to control things, I could be wasting my time examining all the things on my Universe registry that I haven’t checked off. If I am open to receiving, the possibilities are endless. I’ll go with the second choice. It’s so much more exciting.
And now for your viewing pleasure, Reese Witherspoon as Tracy Flick in ELECTION.