You must learn to let go. Release the stress. You were never in control anyway. - Steve Maraboli
It had been a full 2 year since my husband and I had visited Utah where two of my children and 9 of my grandchildren live. I'd planned. I'd packed. I'd organized right down to knowing where everything was in my suitcase and the best way to get to it once I arrived - and in the necessary order.
We made arrangements for someone to watch our dog, took care of all last minute details that needed attending to, and even spent two days hooking up the new security system so I wouldn't worry about leaving the house unoccupied for the trip.
Travel day finally arrived. Feeling fully prepared and mostly on schedule we headed for the airport. We'd figured in plenty of time to handle any foreseen problems and traffic so we arrived with plenty of time to spare. The bus from the off site parking lot dropped us right at the terminal door where we were to check in. Everything was going perfectly! Until it wasn't.
Pulling my luggage behind me with one hand and carrying my purse and jacket with the other I walked through the sliding doors at Midway Airport in Chicago and BOOM. I hit the floor with full force on my right knee. With both hands full, there was little time to break the unexpected fall - though I must have to some extent as evidenced by the bruise on my left hand and wrist.
A curled up floor mat had been the culprit. My foot caught on the mat and there was no time to recover balance. From that minute on, all of my careful planning and visions of what would be were completely derailed.
A nice couple helped my mortified self to my feet. The adrenalin coursing through my body coupled with sheer embarrassment clouded all sense of what was happening around me for a time. The kind strangers helped me to the check in counter, pulled my luggage, and got me settled in line as I dazedly thanked them. I was shaking and in pain but felt I was OK. Until I wasn't.
After the 3 hour flight, picking up the rental car, and driving the 30 minutes to my sons home, I learned that I couldn't bend my knee.
I spent a restless night unable to find a comfortable position and by morning it was clear that I would be making an unexpected trip to the E.R.
The point of this story is not that I fell and was injured, but how quickly our best plans can be laid waste. All of my intentions of playing with grandchildren were instantly altered. My plans to spend time at the company convention being held in the same city were ditched as the brace went on my leg and I was told to elevate, ice, and rest it.
I've spent the last few days dragging the stiff limb behind me at a snails pace, wincing, muttering, and apologizing for slowing down my family, my husband and even complete strangers.
I've known for some time that control was an illusion. I've lived long enough to have seen evidence of it many times, and still, I find myself surprised and a bit bewildered when life doesn't play according to my direction. The better news is that I recover faster each time it happens.
With familiarity comes acceptance - to some degree. I understand that we will never be able to control all outcomes no matter how well we plan or execute. There will always be factors - a lot of them - over which we have no control. Does that mean then that we should throw up our hands and toss our lives into the hands of a fickle fate? No. I don't think so.
What seems to work better is to plan for the best outcome and be flexible enough to go with the flow of what actually happens. It also helps to ask: If some good could be wrapped up in this awful situation, what could it be?
I guess in my situation I'm thankful that I only badly bruised my patella instead of breaking a bone or causing more permanent damage to what I've learned is a key component of my anatomy. I have a whole new appreciation for the miracle of every day motion that I took for granted before. I also learned never to be so distracted as not to be aware of my present surroundings.
I've learned how patient and caring my husband is and the lengths to which he'll go to help me when I need him. I've witnessed the inherent kindness of people as others have gone out of their way to accommodate me and make me more comfortable.
My visit with my family has been wonderful. We've managed to work around the new temporary normal and still enjoy our time together despite the slower than desired speed.
I could have spent a good deal of this precious time feeling wronged, and sorry for myself. I could have let the disappointment of the change in plans make me bitter and angry. I might have made any number of useless decisions that could have altered the course of this trip - but why? What would be the point? Would it heal my knee faster? Probably not. Would I have enjoyed this time? I doubt it. I most probably would have made it miserable for those I came to see as well.
We always have choices. Not always about what happens, but most certainly as to how we respond.
I am happier when I choose to be. I'm more patient when I remember that this too will pass. I'm more agreeable when I can turn the focus off myself and on to those around me who matter.
Another lesson that my husband suggests is that I learn to accept help when I need it and to stop apologizing to the world for having been born into it. He went as far as to ask if I'd apologized to my mother for causing her pain at my birth. My answer: Yes. While still on the delivery table.
My point is summed up very well in the opening quote. We must learn to give up the stress. We were never in control anyway!
How do you deal with unexpected changes when life happens as it wants to instead of how you've planned? We can all use more tools. Share!