I had an epiphany while in the shower this morning, contemplating life as the warm water beat against my back. For as long as I can remember, I have always tried to have a plan that would map out my every move to get me where I wanted to be. Whether it was in my education, my career, even my personal life, I have always tried to control everything.
Then yesterday, I tuned into a TED Talk with Muniba Mazari, and she shared her story of an arranged marriage she entered because her father had told her to do so. She goes on to say that at some point in the marriage, she and her husband suffer a car accident, and while he came out unscathed, it was unclear if Muniba would ever walk again. She tells the audience that she came to terms with the news, but when the doctor told her she would never be a mother or paint again, she refused to listen. She asked her family to bring paint to her hospital bed and did exactly what they said she wouldn’t have been able to do. Years later, after leaving the hospital, she adopted a little boy and became a mother, doing exactly what they said she wouldn’t be able to do.
Muniba says, “Don’t die before your death.” And while her message of doing the things you want rather than being complacent in your life is clear and I hear it, I also feel as if there is an even greater message behind her story. Something that spoke to only me perhaps, but during my shower, it hit me.
Muniba experienced a car crash she surely wasn’t planning on, but she had planned on children and painting. Nothing in my life as far as obstacles could ever compare to Muniba, but I have had moments where what I had planned was upset by an undesirable event, and because of that event, I abandoned the path to my goal. One little upset, and I gave up because I wasn’t in complete control.
And here’s where my epiphany comes in. While I stood in my shower, steam filling up the bathroom, I realized, life isn’t for you to control. Life is full of unexpected, sometimes tragic events, and never will anyone be able to fully avoid all of life’s curveballs, nor should anyone try. Life is meant to be lived through it all. You dodge those curveballs, and keep moving. It doesn’t have to be down the path you had imagined. It doesn’t have to be part of the same route at all. If you have in your mind your ultimate goals, big or small, daily or yearly, how you get there doesn’t matter. It only matters that you do.
Life isn’t for you to control, but you can control your reaction to life.