First, an apology. It goes out to all of Florida in the wake of Hurricane Ian. Better yet, let’s extend the apology to the entire nation, as so many were indirectly affected by this maddening storm’s devastation.
The day before the hurricane, I had been hemming and hawing and crying and moaning about how my brain was burnt to crisp. Even wrote a column about writer’s burnout and how it makes you feel like those blackened crumbs no one ever cleans out of the bottom of their toasters.
“I need time off!” I wailed. Well, I got it. Got nearly a whole month of it, in fact, thanks to the fact I couldn’t do any writing work for clients without electricity or internet. Electricity was out for 12 days. Internet dead for 25 days. Time off indeed.
Seriously, though, I don’t honestly think I have THAT much sway over Mother Nature to think I caused a category 4 hurricane to make a sharp turn to swoosh through my Cape Coral backyard. (If I did, we would have definitely gotten electricity and internet back much sooner.)
And I don’t think the devastation and loss caused by Hurricane Ian is funny in the least. It’s actually been quite horrible and depressing. I use humor as a survival tool; putting an ironic spin on it helps me cope.
I also know the universe is always listening, and equally eager to please. That means we need to be excruciatingly precise when we send out a message its way. And half the time we may be sending out messages without even realizing it. Moms are good at doing this all the time.
They’ll tell their kid things like, “Don’t trip going up the stairs,” “Wear your hat or you’ll catch a cold,” and “You’re going to get hurt if you climb that tree.” So what inevitably happens? The kid trips, catches a cold, and plunges from the highest tree branch, breaking their arm. Ouch.
While the universe is eager to please and always listening, it processes what we say in its own way. For starters, it doesn’t understand negatives or conditionals. Instead of hearing “Don’t trip,” it just hears “trip.” So it grants it.
It also doesn’t connect wearing a hat to not catching a cold, it just hears the “catch a cold part.” And, for those of you who like asking the universe for guidance, it has no inkling whatsoever what to do with the world “should.”
“Should I go to the park?” “Should I adopt a Rhodesian Ridgeback or a Rottweiler?” “Should I leave my husband and move to Cambodia?” None of those questions will get an answer from the universe. “Should” is simply not in its vocabulary.
While tripping, getting sick and falling out of a tree are not pleasant experiences, neither are some of the results you might get from the universe when you ask it for job-related assistance.
A prime example is outlined by the marvelous Florence Scovel-Shinn. She talks about a woman in great need who made a demand to the universe for lots of work. The woman got the work all right – although she ended up never getting paid for it.
Scovel-Shin reminds us to cover all conceivable bases when using affirmations, sharing one that delivers a much better chance of success:
“I have a wonderful work, in a wonderful way; I give wonderful service, for wonderful pay!”
Nice. Add a few more rhyming lines about getting time off when you need it, protecting the world from devastation, and finally obtaining the courage to clean out your toaster (while unplugged) and you’ve got yourself a wish the universe can’t get wrong – or resist.