Occasionally, here at Shiny Bits of Life World Headquarters, we must deal with things that aren’t very shiny.
Sometimes things just happen that cause a loss of time, energy, money and/or relationships.
A very small pain hit my car the other day. (Do cars feel pain?)
I had taken the car for some brake work to a local repair shop. When I came to pick it up, there were tar-like splotches across the hood and roof. A flock of birds had perched on the tree above my car and left their mark.
It took me about an hour of hard scrubbing to remove the birds’ artwork.
Why? What was the purpose of that event?
I will never know.
My pain – or my car’s pain – is so minor compared to what many people face. But here are a few responses that helped me.
- I was thankful that it was such a minor incident. One hour of scrubbing is a small drop in the pond of my life.
- I was thankful that I have a car that could receive the birds’ offerings.
- Letting my negative feelings toward the unseen flock of birds pass through my mind as quickly as possible minimized my pain.
Here’s a rhetorical question (since few people comment on blogs anymore)… what have you found that has helped you deal with bad stuff that just happens?
I looked down at my Apple Watch and saw that the controls were blurred, since the designers decided to highlight the most important thing – time – instead of the many other possibilities it could have displayed.
We wear watches to measure time.
Whether it’s minutes, hours, days, weeks, months or years, we all care about time:
- How much time until our next meeting?
- How much time until the show begins?
- How much time until my prison sentence is finished?
- How much time until our baby is born?
- How much time until our flight leaves?
- How much time until the start of the next semester?
- How much time until our vacation begins?
Some of us measure our stocks. Some of us measure what’s in our bank accounts. Some of us measure how much water or electricity we’re using.
But all of us measure time, by far our most precious resource.
What will you do with your next hour, day, week, month or year?
The pandemic has forced us to slow down. And that’s a good thing.
One of the slow-downs has sped up life for many… delivery services are overloaded. A good friend drives for Amazon. He has been regularly been putting in 60-hour workweeks. Knowing him makes me very thankful to all the delivery drivers out there.
An upside to overloaded delivery services is that we have to wait. Amazon Prime used to mean next-day delivery. Now it can mean two-week delivery.
Some of the things we “need” we really don’t need.
We have some friends in South Africa. They live near Cape Town, a beautiful place that would be fun to visit. That’s on my list of dream destinations… if only the airfare was less. (Sigh.)
I sent them a letter last summer and received it back a month later. A stamped message on the envelope informed me that South Africa no longer has any mail service.
I take for granted the privilege that mail is.
Before the pandemic, one of my sons lived in Sicily, Italy. Two months was the normal time for my letters to reach his mailbox.
Living in America is a privilege.
You have to find space in your life.
Life has seasons. When our kids were seven, five and zero years old, we had little space in our lives to think, plan or relax.
Now that we’re semi-empty nesters,* there’s more space.
* Our college-age daughter is temporarily home on break and staying busy with work and friends. Our two sons are no longer living under the same roof.
No matter the season, I’ve always tried to carve out space to let my mind recover from the stresses of the week.
Saturday morning has been that time for many years. I wake up at the same time as on weekdays, so the house is quiet for about two hours before anyone appears.
I enjoy the newspaper. (Yes, we still have it delivered. There’s something about consuming information on paper that is more satisfying than looking at a screen, especially on the weekend.)
I love my coffee-press coffee.
I savor the quiet.
I would encourage you to carve out some space in your week. Let your mind breathe.
Maybe it’s just a five-minute walk around the block.
September is my favorite month.
After a long hot summer, the cool days are such a wonderful change.
Leaves are starting to change, at least in North America. (I missed that during the five years I lived in Africa.) Growing up in suburban Washington DC, I loved the rich variety of colors falling around me.
My birthday hits this month. Though I’m not huge on birthday celebrations, it’s still a fun day.
School starts. Or it did during my childhood… that was before school began in August. I always enjoyed going back to class and friends, even though it meant the pain of homework.
Enjoy your September!
Autumn hit Denver this year faster than ever. The temperature dropped 70 degrees in 12 hours. As a result, most leaves never had a chance to turn their usual bright colors. They went from green to brown and are falling swiftly to the ground.
Business often forces growth in the same way. If the acceleration of growth happens at the speed of a Ferrari, what could go wrong?
When quantity increases too fast, quality drops.
The end user’s needs often get lost in the push to get the product out the door.
So instead, slow down and experience the joys of life – both personally and in your business.
Caveat… businesses should be able to adapt to change quickly. An example is the music industry and its slow adjustment to the changes streaming brought to the marketplace.
The older we get, the more cynical and cauterized we can become about life’s experiences.
As we’re hurt, it’s easy to say, “I’ve experienced this before, so it shouldn’t hurt as much this time through.”
If you experience pain, it shows you’re alive.
I’m thankful to be alive.
Sometimes it’s better to fully experience our pain rather than avoiding it. The lessons we learn might stick longer. Our appreciation of life post-pain will be greater. And our ability to empathize with those who are in pain will increase – they know we understand.
It was our last night visiting our son, Ben. He lives in a crowded, noisy, hot city in Sicily, Catania.
We decided to stay in an Airbnb together in the heart of downtown, to give him a break from his normal life.
Problem: there’s literally nowhere to park.
The main parking garage is blocked in by the outdoor market. You can only park there if you arrive before the market stalls are set up or after they are taken down – and the stalls are up for most waking hours.
We finally found a spot, after looking for 20 minutes. Ben stood in the opening so I could drive around the block to access the spot. But then my lack of directional sense meant I could not get back. (A maze of one-way streets conspired against me.)
Ben, who is totally used to living there, was almost as frustrated by the situation as I was.
The moral of the story is, how do I deal with frustration and disappointment?
In this case, things worked out, and afterward, our frustration eventually died down.
(Ben met me in a place I shared via a maps app and then navigated me back to the aforementioned slot, which quite miraculously was still open. )
But a better reaction would have been to just relax and not worry about how long it all was taking. After all, we were on vacation together!