I often find myself grasping so tightly to the rules and technicalities of life, of the way something is "supposed to be," that I lose perspective.
In gymnastics and dance, I used to be so caught up in the exact move or flick or nod at the exact right time that I ended up with stiff execution and an overthinking expression on my face, except for the perfectly-timed, "smile here!"
I remember the exact moment when I first learned to loosen my vice grip on the way things are "supposed to be."
I was 20, performing in a summer show on an amphitheater stage (audience covered, dressing rooms not) in Piqua, Ohio - home of the most inspiring, breath-taking thunderstorms of torrential proportion. As August nights in Ohio go, one of these storms visited our performance. Just as my big solo began, so did the lightning and thunder, cracking a whip louder than any speaker could project my sound. My brain screamed, "Pay attention to me!"
Then it happened.
The rain ripped away my grip from all of the preciseness I'd rehearsed. Little rule-follower, technical Larissa fell away and out emerged someone who embodied "dance like no one is watching."
This storm prevented me from following my plan. With all of those technicalities washed away, I found joy.
The rest of the show, we sloshed around in soaking wet costumes, just praying to get through and laughing our faces off at how ridiculous we looked.
After the show, an older patron said to me, "You sure did look like you were having fun up there!" At the time, I was not pleased. Fun? FUN?! I'd never been told that before. You are supposed to tell me I'm good!
But it was in that moment that I not only found what I need, but what everyone around me needs.
What do you have a vice grip on in your life? Are you trying so hard to be perfect, be a "yes" person, appear to the world that you've got it all together, that you've lost sight of the spark that gives you purpose?
Let go. Peel away each one of those stubborn fingers clinging to conventionality. There are so many things in life we cannot control, that we lose ourselves in the constant, "herding cats" of it all. Do not cling to things just because you can control them. Find the joy in the unexpected.