During November, I take stock of what the past year has been. The purpose is always to find the growth and the good to be grateful for. The entire month for me is a meditation on what I am thankful for. This year has been extraordinary and of extreme duress for many across the world. I am extra thankful for the health and well-being of my family and myself. At home, we had the Hurricane Maria milestone three years ago. Christmas 2019, we had earthquakes that continued on through the beginning of 2020. In March, a pandemic emergency continues to this day with all the health, economic, employment, and daily living challenges it entails.
This year of being harbored at home, I have taken more time to learn many things that I had not the time or the resources that became available with the worldwide shutdown. This learning process has contributed to my remaining focused and calm in this scary period. For this, I am also grateful. Throughout this learning period, I remembered that as much as we want the final product, the process of learning or doing is the exciting part and the body of the work. Throughout the process, I am living the project. It is not to be frustrating nor scary; it is to be explored, tried out, figured out my way. This is my version of trusting the process, which leads me to wonder: Trusting the process. The process is life. Trusting life. What does it take to trust life?
“Trust the process,” those who seem to know say. What does that mean? What is the process? No one is really telling. The advice seems sincere. Just trust the process, and everything will work out. Ok, sounds good. But somebody tell me, what about the worry, anxiety, or even anguish in the meantime that most people have? I have come to realize that some would give these answers because:
1. Those were the answers given to them; in their experience, it somehow all worked out in the end for them.
2. That’s what they were told, and that’s all they have.
3. Those were the words they had and had no time nor desire to get into it.
Well, this is what I have figured out in my experience. For the past several years, I have been learning for the sake of interest, not a livelihood. From this standpoint (of ease), I have seen better what the process is about …and accept it.
When you learn anything or do anything for the first time, there is a process: interest (we hope), a vague idea, learn theory, application of the theory, then practice, practice, practice, practice, practice…ad infinitum. At some point, you become a master, a maestro, a teacher, where you can innovate and even teach. Where you understand it so well, you can explain it to others and help them to figure their way around it. That is a process. A simple, applicable process for anything – anything. But we are expected to do well immediately, at most any age. I was going to say when we are young, but it happens at all ages. We seem to be reprimanded or corrected throughout our entire existence, not taught. It is expected that we know, be, and do well immediately. Maybe it is part of an anxious accelerated society. We can get off that whirling wheel at any point if we so desire.
By going faster, you don’t get there quicker.
When you are having a new experience, whatever that may be, it will be a learning experience. And all learning experiences will go through a process. Interest or goal, a vague idea, learn theory (think), application of the theory(attempt), then practice, fail, think some more, try again(practice/attempt). This loop will go on until, at some point, you master what you are learning. These steps (this process) are your experiences. You may have mastered a small part of what you are overall learning; when off, you go onto the next level and start all over again.
I am learning to play the cello. This is the most beautiful experience for me for the simple fact that I have allowed myself to be terrible at it. Nothing about it is tied to my career, my talent, my future. I am learning it wonderfully, only because I want to. The freedom from expectations is delightful. So… I can relax and just go with the process. I trust the process because I have nothing tied to it, therefore nothing to choke it up. No tension over it. So what if it takes me three weeks to master something that is “supposed” to take two weeks. I just want to enjoy every moment I am learning to play. I love it whether I sound like a tortured cat, a deep-sea whale monster, or like a heavenly instrument that lifts our souls eight feet up. When I sound terrible, it makes me laugh. But I also have that profound assurance that I will improve as I practice. And that is really exciting for me. It is an eager expectation. Yes, I am awful at this, but I will get better as I practice. I am trusting the process and enjoying it! When I sound lovely, if even for just a few musical notes- my heart hums with pleasure. With this ease of learning, I learn better, and it goes smoother than I thought. Maybe even faster than I thought it would. And each step is so, oh so much more enjoyable.
What I have learned with cello playing I am applying to work projects. Projects that feel like everything is in the line. In applying the process mentality, I have found that I feel much less pressure. The work turns out to be of better quality and seems to be completed sooner than I thought it would be. Not surprisingly, I am not exhausted nor burned out when finished. The overall experience and outcome are much better.
Trusting the process is to do the steps without being focused on how well or poorly you are doing. If you are good at it, proceed to the next step; if you are bad at it or it’s not working out, continue practicing or trying to understand it better. Don’t expect to know or have the end result from the outset. Let it develop within you, allowing discoveries. It takes time and practice to let the discoveries arise. Trusting the process means to go through each step or experience, living it fully, practicing, taking it in until you reach mastery- and you will reach mastery. This will happen by studying (reading/analyzing), implementing, applying, improving, figuring out what works/what doesn’t, and asking others who will assist you in your learning. More ideas will come up at each step of the process. You can trust yourself to figure it out and work it out at each step. The same we do with life.
We want to get to the results as soon as nearly impossible because the processes are not enjoyable when tied to timelines, achievement, production, and money. It is riddled with obstacles, reprimands, embarrassment, ridicule (maybe), criticism (very likely), and overall stress. Maybe this is why we are suspicious of processes. The process is the experience, the path, and the journey. It’s all the one thing. The sayings, “it is about the path, not the destination,” or “life is about the journey” (the path, the process), are true, my friend. Trusting the process is the same as trusting your life’s journey. Which no responsible meddling family member will allow you to commit.
There is a lot to discover when you trust the process and allow yourself to go through it. You learn more in-depth about what you are trying to accomplish, you may find an unknown pathway because of something you were seeking. You meet interesting people you approach with inquiries: experts, Masters love to share their knowledge and help someone genuinely interested. You learn more about yourself (gasp!). Hidden talents have an opportunity to float up and many more surprising discoveries. Every process can become an adventure. Trust the process, trust life. What does it take to trust life? Maybe all we can trust is that each step can be fully lived. Making each step in life one full of discoveries.
May your blessings be many to be thankful for.
Be safe, be well. A big hug.