I'll Be OK When...

"Let what comes come. Let what goes go. Find our what remains." —Ramana Maharshi


"Your sacred space is where you can find yourself over and over again." —Joseph Campbell

Imagine standing at the ocean's edge with your bare feet planted securely on a stretch of firm, wet sand. As the waves lap onto the beach, your feet begin to sink into the shifting ground below you. What appeared to be a stable, reliable foundation is now washing away beneath you.

Just like the sand at the ocean's edge, everything in our perceptual world is continuously shifting, changing, and moving. Sights, sounds, tastes, and even thoughts are in unceasing motion; as impossible to secure as the sand beneath your feet. We couldn't hold our world in place if we wanted to.

And yet, there is a belief that we can somehow pin our security and OK-ness on things that are always in motion. Things like health, money, image, weight, relationships, and emotional states. Our minds say, "I'll be OK when my children stop struggling, when the chemo ends, when the bills are paid, or when the anxiety abates."

Somehow we know not to trust the stability of the shifting sand, but we don't know not to trust our equally precarious thoughts and beliefs.

We fall for the myth of relief—that fleeting, seductive feeling when a problem is resolved, health improves, or a child finally finds their way.

But like the shifting sand at the ocean's edge, relief is already falling away as soon as it is felt. Your mind will never let you stay in the story of relief for very long.


Because, to your mind, enough is never enough.

The mind's fundamental job is to keep itself relevant. That voice-in-your-head, the one that narrates your day and makes meaning of everything, is designed to solve problems—even if it needs to create them.

Among the mind's favorite narratives, "I'll be OK when..." is probably its most compelling.

That little mind is so clever and so brilliant at its job that it always keeps you on the hook for just one more achievement or milestone.

It says, "I'll be OK as soon as I have...a partner, a baby, a financial security." And then it will let you relax and breathe for just a minute before it says, "Now I'll be OK when I have a college fund for the kids, a clean bill of health, a plan for my aging parents."

Life becomes a never-ending narrative of, "I'll finally relax when..."

And, here's the cosmic joke: That narrative never ends.

It can't end because that would be the end of the story-teller. It would be the death of that little voice-in-your-head whose job it is to solve problems and keep its story of you relevant.

But, there is GOOD NEWS in all of this.

That voice-in-your-head, the one that never stops talking, does not belong to you. Its stories are not personal, and they have no relevance to who-you-are. They are a product of a lifetime of conditioning and circumstances, processed through what amounts to a simple yet incredibly efficient machine.

YOU—that complete, uncontaminated, resilient bundle of aliveness that you were on the day you were born—are simply a space for those stories to pass through like clouds passing through a blue sky. You are the timeless, stable, expansive space in which stories arise and dissolve. You get to watch the stories without becoming identified with them.

The story, "I'll be OK when..." is remarkably predictable, so it's simple to notice when it arises.

Just like your refrigerator predictably cools your food and your washing machine predictably washes your clothes—your mind can be counted on 100% of the time to tell you what you need in order to relax and be OK. It's just a machine doing its job.

When that meaning-making, problem-solving machine in your head tells you what you must have in order to be OK, you can simply observe it. You can thank it for doing its job so well. And then, you can watch how quickly that story passes all on its own, allowing space for the next story to arrive on its heels. When the story is seen for what it is—a cloud passing through the sky— it loses its power.

There is a quiet space that is untouched by the mind. That space is who-you-are, and it is always OK.