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Be Ready for Life’s Unexpected Turns

July 29, 2015

By Jacinta Hin

Each morning we wake up to a future that is about to happen but yet is out of reach by default, unpredictable by nature. Are we ever ready for what’s ahead? We try to keep up but are clumsy at best in being present with all that comes our way.

A while back we buried a friend. He had been sick, but his death came sooner than expected. We were barely able to keep up with the harsh pace of his illness and still struggle with his passing. Around the same time, I found a little kitten on the street, not even two weeks old, thrown away with the garbage. A carefully planned day turned chaotic the moment I picked him up.

Life is not a program we can schedule for. We cannot will away events once they have happened. But we can choose how we respond. We can walk away, close our eyes, or accept them at face value, without getting caught up in feelings and judgment. We can see them as transitional moments, an interlude between what was and what will be.

We can also adopt an attitude of readiness. Approach life with curiosity and open eyes, willing to embrace all that life brings, not just the parts that suit our agenda.

For me, the following ‘practices’ are helpful in this regard.

  1. Know who I am. Beneath the playing field of my life lies the truth of my life. Reality is nothing more, or less, than a momentary reflection. My core is my foundation, always there for me, even during the most challenging of times. From this place, I can respond to anything in a way that’s aligned with who I really am.
  2. Keep facing pain, fears and flaws, so I can break through the barriers of automatic patterns and see what’s possible beyond the beliefs I have about myself and others. When I challenge my limiting perspectives, for instance, I can adopt new ones that are more extensive and empowering. As a result, I am in a better position to make decisions that are right for me.
  3. Be present with life, myself and the people I care about. The present moment is full of happenings that are out of my control, but also full of opportunities. When I am aware in the here and now, my attention will go to wherever it’s needed. I can move beyond the stories I have bought into and embrace reality as it really is. My mind is more awake, my heart more open and I’m more alert to what’s going on inside and around me.
  4. Slowing down. Like many city people, I have a busy life. There are never enough hours in the day. I often have no other choice but to run on automatic pilot. Despite all this, I regularly make time for rest and contemplation. Early morning walks through a city still half asleep, weekends in the country, a day of doing nothing. It is during such slowed down moments that I (re)connect with myself on a deeper level. I notice things. I see the little kitten on the street, reaching out. I realize I want to make time for my dying friend. I suddenly know how to approach a dilemma that’s been bothering me for ages.

Like you, I’m only human. I have plenty of moments when I get caught up in drama and confusion, or react unreasonably to sudden change. I don’t always know what to do. I can be tempted to walk away when life gets complicated. Sometimes I refuse to see what’s going on, busy with other things, unwilling to be disturbed, complacent with the way things are.

Yet, whenever I take a step back and respond from a place of self-awareness, I grow. When I accept and move along with reality as it presents itself, my life becomes more expansive. As a result, I feel more alive and more purposeful. Life becomes more interesting this way too.

My friend Tom would add this to my list; the importance of having the right friends: people who inspire, people who you can learn from and with whom you can share experiences. And knowing that “the kitten grows up, we get older and things continue to happen.”

How about you? How do you prepare for those inevitable moments when life throws you off guard?

P.S. The little kitten is doing fine. I brought him to a nearby pet clinic in whose care he still is.  He is healthy and playful and developing well. Soon he will move to a permanent home with a loving family.

About the author: Jacinta Hin was born in the Netherlands and has been living in Tokyo, Japan, since 1989. Her professional background is in human resources, career management and coaching. She is passionate about helping people, herself included, discover new perspectives of possibility, move to embracing and working with their transitions, and designing and realizing changes aligned with who they truly are and what they truly want from their lives.
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