I once overheard a Greek oracle on a plane

How are you with trust these days? I don't mean trusting that the sun will rise, or that schools will take your child in at 9 am Mon-Fri (thank public service spending for that!!). Or that water will come out of your taps (I personally thank the Scottish rain for that). We take so many of our day-to-day "facilities", blessings, or natural phenomena for granted. There's an implicit trust in there, particularly for those of us living in developed countries, that has receded so much into the darkness of entitlement that it's simply not appreciated anymore. And the sun just keeps doing its thing (or rather our planet does, despite our increased human efforts to thwart it).

No, I mean how do you trust life? How does the living form that you are navigate existence? How does the embodied consciousness that you are handle this movie called life? It's a bit of a flippant question, I know. Humour me for a couple of minutes and I'll try my best not to go all "Law of Attraction" on you.

I used to think (key operational word - think) that I could only trust MYSELF. Go figure. The ego asserting its absolute need for control. Since I can only control me and be predictable with myself, I better limit my trust to "yours truly". Except of course I can't control myself (emotions anyone?) and of course I am not predictable, not even to myself (although some days I despair on this account). The circle then widens to other fellow humans. Hmmm. Tricky business. Is anyone trustworthy 100% of the time? What does this even mean? Again, the ego making an absolute mess of things - just because someone didn't do what you expected, didn't say what you wanted them to, wasn't there for you when you needed them does not mean they cannot be trusted. In this sense of interpersonal trust, it's all about communication, about vulnerability and about compassion. People have got their shit to deal with, most of us are emotionally burdened, and hurtful interactions require a giver and a taker.

No, for a few months I've been pondering on the truest meaning of trust. Which is an openness to life. To the good, the bad, and the outright scary. So about this Greek oracle. Last year my family and I were flying back from Denver to London on a big jumbo jet. I'm not the most zen of flyers (understatement) and this episode had all the ingredients for a major piece of mental horror story: snowstorm, most flights cancelled, hauntingly empty airport, outside darkness, engine failure (I kid you not), and did I mention it was a freaking jumbo jet full to the brim with human lives? As we pulled away from the terminal and the power supply was disconnected from the mains, the inside of the plane went pitch black (except for the emergency lighting). And total silence. Like a tomb (horror film, right?). There was a problem with one of the auxiliary motors and this kept happening every time the pilot tried to pull back to taxi to the runway. In the terrified silence, there was a child who said "Mummy, I don't want to fly on this plane. It's broken". Gulp. Trust children to tell it like it is. And then came Pythia's voice as clear as you'd expect from the priestess to Apollo at Delphi: "If it's safe, the plane will fly. If it's not safe, the plane will not fly".

Ok, it wasn't Pythia, it was the Greek mum who was sitting in the row behind us trying to reassure her children (and herself, no doubt). Well, she reassured me and probably most of the Economy Plus section of the cabin. In the end, the plane did fly and it did land safely in the UK (no major spoiler here). Her wise words also made me reflect (I had a least 8 hours to occupy my "fight this flight" mind). Most of our experiences require a surrendering. An openness. A trusting. It's more than "what will be, will be". It's about being present with our anxiety and our fear, and all those wonderful side-effects of our ruthless instinct for survival. And retaining an allowing for that which unfolds... to unfold.

 

So how the hell do you do that? I don't know. Sometimes I trust (like that time I trusted my life, my son's life, my husband's life and the lives of the other 400 people onboard weren't going to end in the air). More often, I don't trust. It doesn't even require life-or-death situations. I tend to lack trust in life in the most mundane, unimportant, ordinary day-to-day decisions. Does it require faith in some "external power"? Is it a sort of heightened intuition? Or some inner oracle coming from God-knows-where? Dunno.

What I do know is that when I trust (that I'm going to survive a flight, or that I can pack in time for our upcoming trip, or that dinner will be made despite my lack of organisation, or that people will sign up for my online course*...) I flow. And when I flow, I trust. I remain open. I allow. I surrender. I don't resist. I don't criticise myself. In fact, when I trust the mind goes fairly quiet. It's my heart, my body, my awareness that relax and yield to what is already happening.

Life cannot be controlled. Life is not predictable. Trusting life is probably the ultimate exercise in awareness. No guarantees. No unicorns. Just presence.

 

* My 3-week online course on Parenting in Awareness, which starts on June 5.