The best things in life happen unexpectedly. The best stories begin with "and, all of a sudden...." The best adventures were never planned as they turned out to be. Free yourself from expectations. The best will come when and from you least expect it.
A year ago, it had been my hope that I was going to be walking across Spain. Then COVID it happened. It was supposed to be a month long pilgrimage where I would be walking the Camino de Santiago. I was excited and I had trained and had purchased my Airline tickets. The works. So often in life things don’t go as planned. I had heard about many cancellation of weddings, trips, parties, graduations - the list of disappointments seemed endless.
Ironically, I have learned amazing things from all of the stories that I’ve read. Countless story after story where people did not recount their disappointment. Instead, they spoke of their gratitude. People I know personally as well as the strangers that I read about in the newspaper or that I had the honor of meeting. As a wedding was canceled with 140 people and all of the brides plans went out the window, she created an outdoor wedding with only 10 people from her family. Everyone was masked and there were a few comical pictures that she posted online and there was nothing but joy on her face. In the article and her Facebook post she reflected on her wedding, not with disappointment, but instead, spoke about the event itself. She spoke of the joy of being able to marry her best friend and partner and how blessed she was to have her father present. She tapped in and concentrated on what she had rather than what was missing.
This does not negate any disappointment she may have felt as any of her feeling would have been valid, but it does remind us that gratitude takes us a long way and creates a resilience in us as human beings that we often do not believe we are capable.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we have to think outside the box. The more resistant to change we are, the more difficult this year has been for certain. I continue to think about how quickly students moved from being in a classroom to being in an online zoom classroom learning their lessons. Parents and children alike showed bravery, creativity, and an open mind. There is no question that there have been plenty of frustrations along the way. Certainly there were many parents who said “there’s no way this is going to work“ and I’m sure that many of their children had a harder time with the adjustment without their support.
For me, looking for alternatives has been my saving grace. While I could not go on my 500 mile pilgrimage across Spain, I knew that I still needed a shift. I need to look inward about why I wanted to go on the pilgrimage in the first place. I want to change. I wanted to self reflect. I wanted to spend some time with myself. And I even wanted exercise. So, over the course of the past year I needed to do much of these things on my own while still living at home, wearing a mask, working full time, and not being far from home.
I realize that for me the pilgrimage started at home. The self reflection immediately taught me that I like being in control of the things in my life and the first lesson was I can’t be in control of everything! Point taken! Check! Check!
The second lesson for me was that sometimes I need to follow an uncharted path and just see where life takes me and have fun with the unknown. Uncharted waters is something that we are all experiencing together as a global community. Granted, there are many discomforts that, along with doing things that we do not no the outcome for. But when we let down our guard stop trying to Control the ending of our story it makes for more exciting ride.
Another lesson that I have learned along the way is that when I believe that I have failed at one thing I often need to look and pause and see what lessons have taken place during this experience. For all of us during this very scary time, there have been amazing lessons to be learned. Goals may not have been reached the way you have planned but I urge you to look back and ask yourself what did I accomplish or learn because of the path that I had to follow instead? Sometimes uncomfortable experiences can bring about brilliant lessons and amazing gifts. Don’t you think?