This afternoon I went for yet another run with my trusty friend Boo (if you’d like an introduction to this puppy dog, see my article called, “Don’t Fight It: How to Stop Wasting Energy Trying to Control People’s Reactions”). The path I typically run on has quite a few twists and turns, and for me it is difficult to distinguish one bend in the road from another. Today my legs felt like lead, and I was quite ready for my run to be over. I craned my neck like a barn owl trying to scope out if the finish line (or a dreaded hill) was around the next corner. Try as I might, I never successfully discovered what was around the next bend before I actually arrived there. So one mile and one sore neck later, I finally caught on that my desire to see what was around the corner would not in any way improve my ability to see what was coming next. Instead of anxiously wasting my energy worrying about what I couldn’t see, I started to focus on what I could see: my next step. As I started to run with my energy dedicated to each step, in that moment, I could feel the anxiety lift and I actually started to enjoy the run. I was amazed at how much strength I regained when I refused to forfeit my energy to future challenges, many of which were fearful imaginings and not actual realities.
This made me wonder how much energy I have been wasting in other areas of my life, worrying about what’s coming around the bend. My run helped me understand that no amount of effort or energy spent will enable us to successfully cipher out the unseen future. Such a habit even sabotages our efforts to cope with what is right in front of us, at this very moment. We can either send our energy into the void of anxious supposing, or we can invest it in every step along the way. In fact, that is one of the greatest gifts of not knowing what the future holds: we are free to focus all of our efforts on the present moment. This surplus of energy is what empowers us to enjoy the present moment. If we will only seize this opportunity, we can live in joy and harvest the strength and the wisdom that are ours for taking. Instead of worrying about what might go wrong, trust that you have the skills and abilities to handle whatever comes your way. As we use each present step to our greatest advantage, and glean every lesson and every opportunity for growth, we will be equipped to conquer whatever is around the next bend in the road, hills and all.