I thought I’d kicked the habit. Broken out of the age-old pattern in my family of fearing the worst, preparing for it ad nauseam. Because in my family of origin, if the worst hits and you’re unprepared, then shame on you. What did you not think of? What lack on your part could have stemmed the tide?
First-world white woman problems? Of course. But I’m writing this one for those of us—women and men—who are having trouble putting our faith in the Universe, trusting in good outcomes. I’m sure we all know someone who just assumes life will work out in the best possible way. I love those people as much as I am annoyed by them. They appear genetically blessed with a predisposition I’m having to work at again, after life took a “wrong” turn some years ago.
Here we go. But first—warning: nerdy topics ahead.
I doubt I have many followers who are into quantum physics. Go ahead, raise your hands. Ok. I’ll now address the two of you remaining in the virtual room.
Schrodinger’s cat is a classic quantum physics example. The story goes: a cat is placed in a sealed box with poison, a Geiger counter, radioactive material, and a hammer. (Don’t try this at home, kids. I mean, really. Could there be a darker example?)
The radioactive material has a 50/50 shot of being detected by the Geiger counter over the course of an hour. If it’s detected, the hammer smashes the poison vial, releasing it and killing the cat. If it doesn’t, the cat remains alive—albeit, probably unhappy because it’s in a sealed box.
Awful story for us animal lovers. I get it. But remember, it’s hypothetical. Anyway, the crux of it is—until you open the box, the cat is supposedly neither dead nor alive. Quantum theory aficionados will tell you it’s BOTH dead and alive at that point. Because according to quantum physics, the observer influences the outcome of any reality. Until you open the box, Fluffy is suspended in two states. So, there’s a 50/50 chance Fluffy is dead. On the upside, a 50/50 chance Fluffy is alive. The big question—does your expectation or belief about what will be in the box determine the outcome?
Stick with me here, people. Apply this to life. Your expectation of what is to come, according to quantum physics, does influence what is to come. That is, the way you observe and envision your life influences the outcomes in your life.
Let’s go back to my opening sentences: “I thought I’d kicked the habit. Broken out of the age-old pattern in my family of fearing the worst, preparing for it ad nauseam.”
Ah, now you see, no? Fearing the worst, preparing for it as if it’s going to be my reality—well this is just foolish, if quantum physics is to be believed. Because I’m virtually guaranteeing Fluffy’s death in the form of my own worst outcomes.
Ok. Let’s leave quantum physics aside for a moment. Twenty-one years ago, I married with high expectations of a happy life. And yet, at some point the train derailed. My ex-husband was raised in a family that had gone through its own tough times and he generally had a hard time seeing the glass as half full. It soon become apparent to me that positivity was going to be an uphill battle.
What our family experienced as a result of his choices, well that was Fluffy as dead as dead can be. And instead of seeing that as an anomaly, I began to slip back into an old pattern—expecting the worst. Any of you who have been blindsided by life knows it takes some work to get back to feeling all will be well again. In other words–when you’ve seen Fluffy killed, it’s hard to go back to expecting Fluffy will live.
I fought long and hard, growing up, not to buy into the preparing-for-the worst stuff my parents instilled in us. My father’s words: “Look on the bright side.” My father’s actions: Worrying about the house catching on fire, double-locking all doors, replacing things before they broke because they certainly would before we knew it. My mother’s words: “Aim high.” My mother’s actions: Red-penning with relish everything I wrote. Being reticent in new social situations, lest she be criticized. Not taking a chance unless she knew she could nail it.
Old patterns. None which my parents consciously wanted to visit upon us. But they feared life. Perhaps they had been burned, like my ex-husband had. I married a man who would continue familiar patterns for me, despite the fact that I had tried to escape those patterns with a mountain of self-help books, therapy and a whole lot of adventuring. The one thing I think I got right: I ran toward things that scared me. Still do, sometimes. Because when you run through and beyond them, they lose their power.
I’m facing a surgery soon. It’s not at all anything awful—not cancer, not heart-related. It’s something I need to undergo to hopefully improve my quality of life, helping me with neck, shoulder and back pain.
Fluffy, right now, exists in two states. One is that I come through the surgery with flying colors and am so relieved I did it—healing well and fast. The other is that one of the 10 million terrible things listed on the “informed consent” document I signed actually happens.
I thought I’d bested anxiety and a lot of my worst-case thinking. But for some reason, this is bringing it all back. Perhaps it’s because I know in my heart I’ve been the glue that holds the boys and I together as a family. I’m scared that life could let them down again. That something could happen to me. I feel like I put the three of us in a life raft together about a decade ago. And I’ve been the paddler and navigator ever since.
Undergoing this surgery requires me to surrender to life, the Universe, God. To trust again. To trust the raft will remain afloat and on course without my frantic paddling. To hold in my heart that Fluffy is alive, that all is well, that despite the past decade all will be right in our world again.
At some level, I know it to be true. I know my worries are silly, a knee-jerk reaction to events that are long gone.
This is a life test, I think. Can I come through the fire, be shaken to my core and then trust in goodness again? Can I believe that even though life got temporarily hard, it can be filled with ease again? With joy? With a host of new experiences that bear little resemblance to the old?
I’d love to just take Fluffy out of the damn box and pet her, letting her know she doesn’t have to worry.
In lieu of that, I’m going to stack the deck our favor with positive thoughts and energy. Maybe then 50/50 becomes 80/20. Or even 90/10 in our favor.
In that case, Fluffy is alive. And so am I. Alive and kicking in the very best way, heading into a future full of phenomenal possibility.