Through comments by someone I follow on Twitter, I stumbled on the key to living in – and thriving on – the present. Authors Ariel and Shya Kane [@ArielandShya] went through trial and error during their early adult lives in their attempt to find fulfillment.
If you read even one of their books, you’ll discover that they admit their journey took them to many places and venues, under varying conditions, spending great and small amounts of money, only to find the answer to their quest in their every day experiences.
If we’re aware and focusing on the present we’ll find life lessons everywhere we look.
We can be deaf and blind to those lessons, but it doesn’t take a trip to India, a luxury spa, or even a therapist’s office, to practice the art of thriving exactly where we are.
The painful yet honest truth is that we excel at complaining and stressing about situations in which we find ourselves: traffic, long lines at the TSA security checkpoint, our job or lack thereof, boredom, illness, and so on. But if we’re honest with ourselves – and lately I’ve been painfully honest with myself – we’ll conclude that complaining and stressing out over such situations does nothing toward changing them. But changing the way we view those situations does alter how we react to them and therefore how we feel about that moment of time in which we’re inconvenienced because what we would have preferred to happen, did not.
When did your complaining about a lengthy red light – when you were endeavoring to get to an appointment on time – actually make the green light come quicker?
Here’s a direct quote from the Kane’s book, Practical Enlightenment:
Instantaneous Transformation happens when you’re living in the current moment of your life. This moment right now is all there is. Something in the future will not get here until it does, and when it does it will occur as a moment of now … This moment is perfect exactly as it is and in fact cannot be different than it is/was.
My husband and I just returned from a driving trip to wine country in Northern California. We enjoyed great wine and delicious food and we exercised each day: sometimes hiking, sometimes a mile or two walk in the location in which we found ourselves.
After leaving our last overnight in California we pulled into a redwood forest ranger station and spoke with the ranger on site. We told her we wanted to go on a short hike and she suggested a route that would take us along a dirt road and would eventually lead us to the Stout Trail. We had to drive through some bridge/road construction to get there but having driven from Washington, through Oregon, and through California, we were well acquainted with such slowdowns.
After our hike & picnic, my husband decided to check our tires because he thought he heard an unwanted noise after driving through the construction on the way to our hiking destination.
Yep, there was a large screw stuck in our rear left tire. After we expressed our own personalized variety of expletives, we unloaded our suitcases, the two cases of wine we’d accumulated, and the spare/donut tire that would get us to the nearest Les Schwab Tire Center to get the tire fixed or replaced.
After swiftly changing the tire we ended up in a lengthy line of construction backup because all drivers had to share one lane of road. One of the locals with whom I spoke – having exited the car to stretch my legs – declared, “According to my day-to-day experience this delay could be ten minutes or an hour and a half.”
Yowza, but the truth of the matter is …
- We didn’t plan on having a punctured tire but it happened anyway. So we changed the tire (and by we I mean Jerry) and we reloaded the car and went on our way.
- The road construction wasn’t in our travel plans either but we couldn’t predict or prevent it. Nothing we did caused the road delay, we were just a part of everyone else’s delayed experience.
So I got out my iPad and read until it was time for our line of traffic to share the one lane – approximately forty minutes later.
When we arrived at Les Schwab no worse for wear, we were given a 1.5 hour timeframe in order for the tire to be fixed. We couldn’t have predicted or prevented the numerous people from arriving to have their tire service before us. Complaining about it wouldn’t make our wait a shorter one, so the two of us got out our E-readers and enjoyed the novels in which we were currently engaged.
Only one hour later – shorter than the predicted timeframe – we were on our way with a fixed tire for which there was no money expenditure. We hadn’t purchased our tires from Les Schwab, but they repaired it for free anyway.
We finally ended up at our Yachats, Oregon destination (our last overnight on our road trip) three hours later than previously “planned” but had we not arrived late, we wouldn’t have had a later than normal dinner and we wouldn’t have been treated to this sunset while enjoying a delicious meal and glasses of Malbec wine.
Somehow or another we made it through our 9.5 hour drive to Yachats and were rewarded with this view from our window table in the Adobe Resort restaurant. I have to say, this lesson wasn’t all that difficult to learn and I guess the two of us did pretty damn well surviving the ordeal … but there is a caveat:
If this tire episode had occurred on a Sunday – the only day of the week Les Schwab is closed – our lesson may not have been as skillfully learned.
I admit, this blog post might look slightly different had that been the case because we would have had to overnight in Brookings, Oregon (the location of the tire store) to wait for the store to open up Monday morning … and our return home would have been delayed by one day … and, and, and …
But something tells me, we would have still found the silver lining in that storm cloud had we searched long enough. I mean, the chain of Les Schwab Tire Centers didn’t shutter their doors on Sunday just to piss us off. When they established that company policy way back when, they didn’t have us in mind. No, they decided to honor their employees by giving them Sundays off every week. They were just being a good employer.
So most likely we would have arrived at that friendly justification at some point …