The Unfolding of Life

Seek not that the things which happen should happen as you wish; but wish the things which happen to be as they are, and you will have a tranquil flow of life. -Epictetus 

Life is a series of unfolding–of unwrapping gift after gift with the uncertainty of what’s inside the bottomless box. Each layer of the box reveals itself to us when the time is right, regardless of whether we feel ready for it or not. A blanket may be perfectly folded, but it will not keep you warm in that state. It might look pretty on the shelf of a linen closet, but to truly utilize it, we must take it out of that tidy state and explore its manifolds. The unfolding may be messy and there is no guarantee that it can be refolded the exact same way it was before. It is this uncertainty of the unfolding that scares us to death. 

Unfolding can be messy. It can look like a toddler hastily unwrapping a birthday gift, throwing the scraps of gift wrap on the floor in a pile. Unfolding can look like a businessman carefully opening a letter containing important documents, careful not to rip or tear anything. But life is not an envelope with perfect perforations–we are bound to make accidents; but these accidents are all part of the unfolding. How we go about unfolding is what truly matters. 

Unfolding requires bravery. Sometimes it’s easier to let the envelope sit on the counter than open it. Sometimes you unfold the shirt from your drawer and it’s wrinkled and stained, but would you rather wear the same shirt everyday? Maybe you can iron it, maybe you have to wear it as it, wrinkles and all, and embrace the imperfections. When things are folded, we feel in control. Folded things give the illusion of perfection, of order. Unfolding always has a certain amount of chaos. We’ve been conditioned to organize, to clean, to perfect, to trim our lives like a rosebush. We try to fold our lives into tidy little boxes. 

My manta this week has been, “I trust in the unfolding of my life.”  I surrender to it. I let it reveal itself to me without judgment. It is easier said than done, but I am slowly learning to love the process of unfolding. 

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