roofless in Switzerland and the art of living backwards
It’s amazing what can be accomplished with a chainsaw and a
touch of testosterone.
Take my roof for example.
Only the other day, I was still in my pajamas quietly writing to
you, when suddenly there was this unspeakable noise coming
directly from heaven. It sounded like Douglas Adam’s Sky
bulldozers were hovering just outside the roof and rudely revving
their engines at the chimney.
Next thing there was a gaping hole above my desk and the sunny
face of a Zimmerman (Swiss carpenter) beaming down at me with
grey sky and clouds tangled in his hair.
“Gruetzi! ” said the smiling face. This is Swiss for hello,
actually a shortening of “I greet the God in you!” and on
this particular day, a really truncated way of saying “Please
don’t get mad at me. I’m only doing my job. I was told to cut
a big hole in your roof before breakfast but I’m sure it’ll
make you really happy one day when we put the windows in and all
the hammering is over.”
Okay, I’ll admit, I’m exaggerating. I was forewarned about
having s’nuni (9 o’clock tea) ready for workers.
Only it was a freezing day and the sky was threatening to weep
all over the damages and dribble onto my desk in the process.
I sat a moment transfixed. Marvelling at how many complex
sentences could be squeezed into one simple salutation. And how a
cheery smile and recognition of another’s divinity can defuse
even a wordpressed dragon.
How’s that for reverse dynamite?
You can stop an explosion and toxic fallout from ruining your
shoes simply by smiling and seeing and acknowledging the good in
And anyway, if you view your life backwards, especially the
messy bits, you’ll see that absolutely everything that happens
to you, comes from some or other order you put in to the
universe. Or because it’s actually for your own good in the
Often when we ask for something bigger and better than what we
have right now we forget that a lot of messy work needs to take
place in between.
Back to my roof example: to have more sunshine, space and light
I first have to put up with gaping holes and temporary
Usually we just see the rubble and trouble and say “Dear God,
why me? Why now? What are you doing? This is not at all what I
Sure, I agree this is a simplistic example. When you’re on your
knees wondering how to stop the wild animals from running way
with your shoes, God’s logic usually looks a little abstract to
say the least. And angels (well mine for sure!) tend to have a
sense of humour that verges on lunatic. But apparently it all
adds up, even though you may only see the beauty of the equation
long after the dust has settled.
The trick is to see beyond the moment and trust that we’re
living in a supportive universe. And, if you can’t immediately
see a positive connection, look for the opportunity in everything
that happens to you.
This is what Martha Beck means when she recommends living your
life backwards. And, when looking forwards, what Jack Canfield
means when he says “Become an Inverse Paranoid.”
Jack recommends starting each day with the mantra: “I believe
the world is plotting to do me good today and I can’t wait to
see what it is!” And then, he says, look for the opportunities
and miracles that show up. They always do.
So how do you live your life backwards?
Think about the worst thing that ever happened to you. And now,
think about something positive that happened as a result.
Often you are given problems to solve and then once you’ve
managed to do this you become gold to others who are wrestling
with the same issues and can’t find the way out. So your
experience enriches you, but only if you share what you’ve
learnt with others. If you don’t share your experiences the world
loses out and so do you.
Think of your life as a pearl. If there were no grit of sand in
the first place, no disturbance to rub you up the wrong way,
there’d be no pearl to write home about. Your toughest
experiences are those that have grown you into who you are today.
Whenever something disturbing happens to you think back on the
gaping holes in my roof and then press pause a moment to stand
back and look at your life more symbolically. What’s really
going on here? How is this situation designed to help you in the
How is the universe plotting to add more sunshine to your life?
Wishing you sunny days and no fiddlers on your roof in the week