I was recently on a call with my business partner, CEO of The Learner’s Group, and author of Trumping the Race Card, Mr. Rodney Patterson. He made the following statement, “There must be a readiness before there’s receptivity to anything.” It stayed with me, obviously. It got me thinking about this idea of being or getting ready for something. That process of preparing to receive struck a chord in me.
It brought to mind faith-based concepts like Christianity, which teaches that you must invite, receive, or accept Christ into your life. I thought of the quote attributed to Buddha Siddhartha Guatama Shakyamuni, which tells us when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. I thought of my years as an athlete and my days now, as a woman of a certain age, working to stay fit physically and otherwise, and how much more intentional I must be. Stretching and warming up before strenuous exercise is even more important to me at 58 than it was at 18.
I even thought about my grandmother, our family’s matriarch, and how we prepared to move her from her independent living status to a nursing home and eventually to hospice care. I remembered sitting with my mother and her sisters as we met with the funeral home director. It was necessary to pre-purchase her funeral services as part of the process to satisfy admission requirements into the care facility. No matter how we chose to think during this process, each line item ultimately signaled the need for us to “get ready” to face Nana’s pending death. It was then it dawned on me that no matter how much preparation preceded it, I saw no way possible to be ready to receive the reality of Nana’s death.
It took time, but I began to rethink the process. What if I had not had the time and opportunity to prepare for Nana’s passing? How much less receptive might I have been, had her death been sudden and shocking? Had the preparation process made me more receptive to the realities of living life without her?
But, what if her death had been unexpected? What if there had been no time to “get ready?” Isn’t it possible that I could have transitioned to life without her, absent the stress of making dealing with it smoothly an unimaginable option? Couldn’t I have processed what happened and felt equipped to handle this new reality? Was being receptive a choice?
While I still have days of wishing I could pick up the telephone and hear Nana’s voice, I also know that it took no time at all for me to continue my conversations with her after she died. I still talk to Nana. I wonder what she would say when I am challenged by a garment I’m sewing. I can hear her voice, tone, and laugh as she’d say, “To be a good seamstress, you have to be a happy seam ripper.” Somewhere, I decided that receptive meant I embraced whatever came up for me. Instead of feeling burdened by her death, I find myself strengthened by her life.
Sometimes, it’s good to find a place where we can just observe. Doing so might reveal that we transitioned from readiness to receptivity much more smoothly than we believed was possible. We may need to see past the tendency to assume difficulty ahead, and instead, expect that we can navigate the path forward no matter how it winds or turns.
Are there areas or situations in your life that you’ve described as difficult or impossible to handle? Have you considered this: What if you are struggling with is actually the struggle you created. What if the mere fact that you are here, in your life, is proof that you are ready to receive whatever comes next?
Lead your best self forward
Dr. Lisa Summerour is a speaker, coach, workshop facilitator, DIY enthusiast, and author of the What Went Well? Journal. The journal designed to empower individuals by engaging them, each day, to write down what has gone well, and identify what caused the good to occur. The adult version also includes 12 months of engagement enhancing activities.