“May I arrive at the perfect time.”
Jane Cudney (my grandmother)

I was recently running late for an appointment downtown. While driving I was first focused on time and traffic, my body tense with the effort of not being late.

Fortunately, this is Portland and it was rush hour, so I had time to rethink my strategy. I realized I was making the mistake of focusing on the steps toward my desired outcome, rather than putting energy into the outcome itself.

Instead of trying to get around traffic and bend time, I started imagining a very relaxed and welcoming arrival. I trusted there would be no issue when I got there, whatever time I arrived would be the “right” time. I didn’t know how this would happen, only that it would.

It worked, and I arrived only a few minutes late. It wasn’t enough to warrant a comment or even be noticed by the receptionist when I checked in. This experience reminded me of a deeper lesson rooted in Tai Chi that serves to untangle much of the stress in daily life.

To put it strangely, results are the cause of their own success. In Tai Chi when throwing a strike, you focus on the point beyond where the strike will land before you even raise your arm. This focus of intention puts your will slightly ahead of your physical action, which creates an effect of being pulled into motion and increases the power of the strike tenfold.

Usually with action we focus on what we are physically doing at the time we are doing it. This is like putting your weight on your leg when trying to move it. The concentration of effort blocks flow and limits the ability to effectively act.

If you instead focus on the desired result, appropriate action will take care of itself, similar to walking across a room to pick up an object.

It’s the difference between pushing and pulling. The past pushes from behind, trying always to overcome itself. The future pulls things to it, creating them in its image. Intuitively you can feel the difference. The effort not to be late is a push, arriving at the perfect time is a pull. The action involved – driving – stays the same, but the experience of it changes.

This takes the pressure off the details, and allows for the simplest, most effective actions to become evident. You surrender to the life you want to live and let it be created through you. Details untangle themselves and life gets easier.