It's the shortest day of the year today. In England, the sun rose this morning at 8:04 a.m. and set at 3:53 p.m. It's been really cold here and the recent tiny snowfall has crippled the country, including the airports. All my American ex-pat friends (me included) are worried about not getting home for Christmas.

I'm not the biggest fan of travelling or packing myself up for a few weeks away. And with Christmas and wedding planning plus tying up loose ends at work, there's so much to do before heading off. I thought I was stressed before I found out there was a chance that I couldn't get home, and then the snow arrived.

This all has made me think about control. As a self-confessed control freak (I actually corrected Future Hub last night on his cheese grating technique), what bothers me so much about the possibility of not getting home Christmas Eve is more about the sinking feeling you get in your stomach when you realize that you truly have very little control over many things that happen to you in life.

When you hear a practicing Muslim talk about most things in life, they typically add a phrase to most statements of intent – Inshallah – which is an Arabic translation of the phrase 'God willing'. As in, I'll be going home for the holidays, Inshallah (abbreviated IA when written).

I love this. Whether or not you are religious or whether you believe in a God, or Gods, or just some sort of universal force, to add a sentiment to your statements of intent that leaves room for the fact that you are not always in control is a wonderful humble reminder.

Because it's so easy to forget.

I haven't been meditating much recently. Last year I was doing small short bursts a few times a week and trying to get into a routine. But this year, I've got lost in being busy. And when you're busy and getting a lot of things done, that illusion of control often sneaks in.

I think the reason why meditation (and yoga for that matter) is called 'practice' is because when you practice letting go and just sitting there, accepting things as they are and not how you want them to be, it makes it slightly easier when you are faced with the less-fun things in life. Like cancelled flights due to a dusting of snow or having to wait for ages for the bus and then sitting in a seat that smells slightly of vomit.

And worse things, of course.

For me, part of trying to maintain the illusion of control is not wanting to accept things as they are. Sometimes I don't want to meditate and practice. I just want everything to be perfect and easy. I know life's not fair but I want to pretend, no matter how miserable it makes me.

And I guess that's the thing. When you fight the lack of control tooth and nail, life can be a real misery. It's just hard work. You miss the joy because you're too busy feeling frustrated and upset.

So this Christmas maybe I'll try to just accept whatever comes my way, Inshallah. That would be a very nice gift indeed.

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  1. This is a very lovely post and I have duly shared it with the hub... Could you go into a little more detail on the correct way to grate cheese? I'm not sure mine's doing it right either.

    Only joking. Have forwarded it because it is, as you so rightly say, always good to have a little reminder that control is pretty much one big hallucination.

  2. The correct way to grate cheese is with conviction! (joke as well)

    Thanks for liking this post. It's always the ones I feel a little unsure about writing that get the best response! Just goes to show it's good to find the edge of your comfort.


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