When I was young, I once fell asleep worrying about whether something would happen. I dreamed of a guardian angel who told me, "Sis, it will or it won't."
I was 6, and that statement had a profound effect. I had never before realized that in life, there are only two fundamental choices, and that sometimes fate will elect one option or the other, and you just have to accept it.
I am an impatient person. My children can tell tales of me fussing at red lights, demanding that the microwave hurry up and heat my coffee or rolling my eyes at the people in line in front of me at the grocery store. I'm also really punctual. To me, ten minutes early is on time, and those who don't show up until the appointed hour are late. This creates a conflict in my life because if you're early, you have to wait.
I not only want to control my own behavior, I want to control that of others and of the world. I like to be the manager. I like to run the show. I like to be in charge and set the rules.
Sometimes, though, life doesn't let me. As I sit in the bathroom with a croupy child, the hot water running and steam filling the room, there is nothing to do but hold him and wait. I hum a song and rock the toddler until there is nothing but his wheezing breath and the weight of his limbs growing soft and heavy as he sinks into sleep. Will now be the moment he begins to breathe easier? It will or it won't, and there is nothing I can do about it.
In the intensive care unit at my grandmother's bedside, I watch the heart monitor jump and the bubbles slowly drift down the I.V. line. Her rings are off, stored with patients' belongings, and her hand is almost unbearably soft as it lies in mine. We love her, we need her, we want her to get better. She will or she won't, and all I can do is be there and stroke her palm, hypnotizing her and myself, and wait.
My children are competitive, have been since birth, and it seems that I have sent them into one contest or another since they could walk. I pet them on the back, give them a last encouraging word and see their heads held high as they walk away from me. Their courage awes me. Their strength is a gift. Will they do well? Will they be happy? They will or they won't, and it has nothing to do with me.
Watching a cow ready to calve. Handing a test to a professor. Giving the last word in a closing argument and letting the case go to the jury. Planting a seed. Floating an idea. Tossing a smile at a stranger. It will or it won't, and that's the beauty of it.
Sometimes the greatest gift that life hands you is the realization that you must simply let it be: to enjoy the moment, to celebrate what you have been given, and to recognize that you cannot control it all. There will be joy, there will be sorrow, but through it all runs one certainty: It will or it won't, and you have to accept that.
I try to let those moments be. I cede power, and I give up impatience. I think of the 6-year-old I was and let the amazement and wonder fill me. I wait for the outcome, and right now, that is enough.