Last week, I was traveling to Minnesota to take part in some training. When I made my travel plans, I had strategically booked a later flight so that I would have the bulk of the day to spend with my family. The training did not start until the next day, so there was no urgency for me to be there the night before. How late I got there was more dependent on me than on anyone else.
My family dropped me off at the airport and I made my way through check-in and security. As I boarded the plane, I thought about the next few days and all that would transpire. I love to travel but as my kids have gotten older, I’ve not always been keen on leaving them behind while I go off on a journey here or there.
I settled into my seat on the plane and before I knew it, there was an announcement over the communication system that we would all need to deplane as there was a technical issue with the plane. You could hear the collective groans from people as they gathered their belongings and made their way back to the gate area from which they had just come.
As we waited for some update of the plane’s status, I played out all of the scenarios in my head of possible arrivals into the Minneapolis airport. As the time ticked by, I went to the gate agent to see about the possibilities that I had before me. If I didn’t at least make it Chicago that night, my prospects were bleak at getting to Minneapolis in time for my training. In fact, if I didn’t make it to Chicago, it looked as if I might miss the whole first day of a two day training.
The next 30 minutes were spent on the phone canceling my car reservation and seeing if there were any other possibilities for travel that the gate agent had overlooked. I never imagined how difficult it would be to cancel a car reservation, nor did I imagine how rude a customer service representative could be to someone who was doing their best to make a fairly important training session.
Needless to say, it was an eventful twenty four hours. I made it to Chicago, managed to get to a hotel paid for by the airline for two hours of sleep, made my way back to the airport, and arrived into Minneapolis about the time that my training was starting downtown. I downloaded the Uber app and quickly familiarized myself with a system that would prove to be incredibly useful over the next two days. I arrived at my training only an hour late having only missed the introductions of the others who were embarking on this training with me.
I like adventure, but I also like control. I guess that you might say that I like the adventures that I can control. Kind of ironic, as I think about it, controlled adventure seems to make as much sense as so many other oxymorons in life like jumbo shrimp, army intelligence, and government aid. The best adventures seem to come when there is a release or abandonment of control, not when one finds themselves hanging onto control for dear life.
But in order to abandon one’s self to adventure, there needs to be some kind of trust in something. At least that’s the way it’s been for me. If I trust something or know something that’s waiting on the other side of the adventure, I will have a much easier time giving myself over to it.
Life rarely provides such a neat and complete package served up to us, does it?
This week, I find myself away from home again for a longer period of time. One short month after purchasing a used vehicle, said vehicle doesn’t start and needs a jump. The scenario played out multiple times over the course of a day and I finally had to bring it into the dealer. Not the kind of thing that you expect out of a car that was certified when purchased, and certainly not the thing that you want to be dealing with when you’re far from home.
As I get older, I am realizing more and more that these are the things of life. Plan A rarely happens as was it was originally thought out. Smooth sailing seems to be reserved for storybook fare, not for real life. In fact, if there’s not some kind of disruption on the way to the final goal, I think I might begin to wonder if something was wrong.
In the midst of the detours, the Plan Bs (and Cs, Ds, and Es for that matter), and the hiccups and bumps along the way, there are some things that I can easily move past while others seem to bog me down. I’d love to say that I easily move in and out of detours and delays without missing a beat, but that would be me lying. Some detours set me off worse than others.
Working through these delays, I have to constantly remind myself that getting frustrated over the situation won’t improve it at all. Getting frustrated with the people with whom I deal with during these detours is an even greater misstep, not only will that not do any good, but that will multiply the number of people who are frustrated due to unforeseen circumstances, circumstances out of my control.
I’m learning to embrace the detour. As I sat in the waiting room of the car dealer the other day, the customer service agent came in to tell me that the battery replacement was not covered under my warranty. Not sure why, but that seems to be one of the items that is exempt from the extended warranty. But I couldn’t help but think to myself, at least I’ve got the money somewhere, at least I can afford this right now. Wanting to afford it and being able to afford it are two different things, and while I would rather have spent the money elsewhere, the fact that I don’t have to scrape the bottom of the barrel for it made me thankful in the moment.
I also couldn’t help but be thankful at the timing of it. I have no major plans that couldn’t be shifted in the moment. There was nothing imminent that I would miss in dealing with this detour. If the detour had taken place in a few weeks, it would have potentially set off an avalanche that would have rippled through plans that have been set for months.
I have heard it said that you can’t control your circumstances but you can control your response to those circumstances. I think I’m beginning to get it, it’s beginning to sink into the deeper parts of my brain. It doesn’t mean that I like it when I am delayed or when something unexpected and expensive comes along, but it does mean that I can look at it as an opportunity to grow and be stretched rather than just one more thing that could set me off.
I’m certainly not there yet, but the beautiful thing about a new day is that you get another chance to try it all over again.