Que Sera Sera

Doris Day. Made singing sound easy, but that's for another day.

It's interesting how many philosophies and religions, or at least the best ones, end up with the same golden rule at the end of the day. Something along the lines of things are fine just as they are, just be yourself, be in the present, que sera sera, etc. It all comes back to a faith in the world itself as being fine just the way it is.

These traditions suffer at the hands of some feeble-minded critics who either say people like this are fatalistic and believe in fate or destiny, or that they're Panglossian and miss the fact that everything certainly isn't right with the world, and how could they possibly say it is? DH Lawrence put his finger right on the misunderstanding when he said (paraphrasing here) that the true life is one where you get to truly know yourself, but this is also the hardest life to lead. So yes, be yourself and let things be, but be prepared for this to be a difficult thing to do.

Letting things just be is not some passive acceptance of things. The passivity attributed to just being is only a mirror image of the muscular wrestling with how things are that the more muscular philosophies wear with such pride. For them there's doing, and then there's just being - they're polar opposites. So just being can only look like idleness and lack of moral responsibility and other no-good-layabout things, to them.

If you want to look at things more like a scientist, what the do-ers miss is that just being is a dynamic state, not a static state. I've talked about that before, how stability or equilibrium is a constant adjusting act, a dynamic stability, like a top spinning. But the same applies to a life, you're always running to stand still, there are thousands and millions of tiny adjustments to be made each day to do everything from keep your clothes clean and food on your table, to mantaining relationships. What distinguishes the que sera sera people from others is how they approach each of these.

Rather than approach every situation, no matter what it is, as needing a certain amount of control (from them), the Doris Dayers take what's already happening and gently inflect it in some new way that works for them. And more importantly they don't tend to stand aside from situations and take any sort of vantage point upon them anyway, from which to inflect things. They're just 'in the moment', and their actions flow from that.

Rather than continue with analogies and flowery language, what prompted me to write about this today was my own ongoing experience with this. I was sitting on the bus this morning noticing how just letting things be also applies to your relationship with yourself, in how you use your body (the 'bodywork' topic I come back to now and then). For example we so often divide ourselves against ourselves. The seats on the bus are 'ergonomically' designed, meaning they're designed to attempt to stop the average slob from collapsing in a heap. Which means if you have any sort of poise about you they're exquisitely uncomfortable. After a short time you can start to feel pains and tensions in your body, and it's in those moments when we normally tend to split ourselves in two. We distance ourselves form the pain, so that suddenly there's me-and-the-pain, and the me is trying everything it can to shift the rest of me into some position where the pains go away. Forgetting that just moments before there was just 'me' there, not me-and-my-body. I wasn't even aware I had a body, I was just reading my book and taking in the sites and listening to mind-numbing country AM radio.

If you don't do that and instead make all of that 'me', including the pains, you'll notice your body effortlessly rights itself and suddenly you're back to being just you again. Now some bodywork traditions talk about this as a difference between using yourself as a whole thing, and as a collection of parts. I think that's the wrong metaphor. The divide isn't between you as a lovely whole and you as bits and pieces here and there. The divide is just a divide. It's you dividing experience itself into where you are now and where else you'd rather be. Rather than just letting it be what it is. What Alexander used to call 'end-gaining', the endless attempts to achieve or gain ends separate to what you're currently doing, which then takes you out of the moment of what you were doing and into two moments, and two spaces - the now (don't like) and future (do like), and the me and body or me and world.

It might seem like a fine distinction, but it's perfectly possible to have a set of parts in a non-divided way i.e to be 'whole', as people like to say, and still play with 'parts'. I can scan my whole body, taking my awareness across my torso and hips and knees and soles of my feet, and wherever else, and never once split myself apart from them. When i do that I notice that it's not me 'up here' in my head scanning those areas, the 'me' actually shifts to my torso and hips and knees and feet. I am centred wherever my awareness is, my awareness isn't like a lighthouse shining its light across the landscape, "I" move with it. I can try the opposite and assume me is up here in my head, and set that me apart from these things, so that the experience is more like me up here observing and controlling all those bits down there. That will produce a whole set of strains and discomfort, because I'm not actually divided like that so the attempt to make myself so will be me straining against reality.

I noticed the same thing with breathing. Having had 'breathing problems' for most of my adult life, until I discovered this stuff, I was sitting in the library one day and fiddling with my breathing, as I tended to do all the time. Then suddenly I noticed the dramatic difference it made to treat my breathing as the breathing of the activity I was currently doing. So if I was reading the paper, to observe my breathing as I read the paper, so instead of being just breathing, it was the breathing-of-me-reading-the-paper. In other words I'd plugged the breathing back into that non-divided experience where there's just experience, not experience and vantage points upon experience. (Personally, and my own experience backs it up, I think asthma is a fiction and is really just that dividing of the person and their activity from their breathing.)

You can apply this to any part of your life. Accept everything just for what it is, whether that's feelings in your body, other people, activities at work - anything. No matter how crap it feels, don't try to distance yourself from the experience so that it's suddenly you-and-the-experience. If you find yourself engaged in some activity of "trying to accept things as they are", you've slipped back into being divided again, because that attempt is itself you dividing yourself from what's happening and trying to steer it a certain way.

You should find that the vast existential and even physical weights and burdens the human condition is supposedly burdened with just fall away. Immediately.

As I've said before, this is my faith. The world. Just as it is. I keep coming back to it because once you really GET that, there's nothing in life to trouble you. Nothing at all. Nothing to 'do' either, you just swim effortlessly with the flow. Doesn't mean only 'nice' things happen to you, far from it. But everything just is its own pattern, with its own rationale and way of unfolding, and your grief and pain and despair are openings out onto wider and more amazing lives and experiences. If you let them be that. Everything always changes, there's no overall plan, but it does that by itself, and you can plug into it right now.


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