Have you heard the joke, How do you make God laugh? The punch line: Make a plan!
I thought of that joke this morning. I had a plan: drive to Baltimore, an hour away, to visit my friend, Sarah. Spend a few hours with Sarah and drive home. As soon as I got on the Interstate I heard God laughing. My speed hovered between zero and 4 mph due to a crash 10 miles ahead. At first I felt frustrated and angry about being stuck in traffic. I let myself rage a few minutes. Then I remembered the words of Eckhart Tolle, a contemporary mystic. Eckhart talks about the way we fight reality instead of flowing along with what ever occurs. He actually uses the example of being in a traffic jam to illustrate his point: it’s useless to fight something we can’t do anything about. Better to find another way to channel our energies.
Soon I was traveling along at the speed or a tortoise, looking at all the truckers who were either doubly frustrated or accustomed to such delays. I noticed a Bolt Bus and pondered how the delay was impacting the NY to DC passengers on board. I saw an airport van and wondered who would be late for a flight or annoyed by an extra hour travel time to get home after a long flight. I also was mindful of whoever had the car crash with injuries up ahead and thought how their lives were much more than inconvenienced by whatever had happened.
Once I fully accepted my plight and moved on from grousing about reality, I was fine. I even ended up laughing when stuck behind a funeral procession traveling through Baltimore, further delaying my arrival. Well, maybe some of my laughter was a little too maniacal at that point, but nonetheless, it was honest to goodness laughter.
I arrived at Sarah’s a full hour later than I anticipated. And there was the most delightful surprise! Sarah knew I was stuck in traffic–love that cell phone technology–and had time to prepare a Sichuan noodle lunch. I said, “What a treat! A hot meal for lunch!” Sarah laughed and said, “Yeah, since you were stuck in traffic I had time to think about what I’d like to cook and scrounge up the ingredients for a real meal.”
Let’s consider this. I was unhappy stuck in traffic, got over it, and had a delicious meal because of the traffic delay. How often do we bemoan the unexpected, make it a problem, and miss out on a possible delight? Will you join me in looking for the silver linings in the little inconveniences? Will you join me in taking our stories of small annoyances and unexpected delays and turn them into tales of adventure and delight? Share your stories with me. I’d love to hear how you let go and how you, too, learn to laugh at the unexpected.