“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” ~Maya Angelou
Sometimes you just have one of those days, where things happen to you over and over again, as if someone up above is testing to see if you really want to have a good day. Unfortunately, 95% of us give in and decide that it’s just going to be one of those days.
What if one of those days really meant the happiest day of your life, despite the fact unfortunate events temporarily plague your existence?
A few weeks ago, a highway patrolman took pity on me because I was having one of those days.
It all started with a trip to the accountant. After spending a decent amount of time procrastinating on finding an accountant to dive into my complex taxes (freelancer, two businesses, consultant, full-time job, multi-state), I was finally behind the wheel hopeful for a decent return as I drove myself to a small town an hour away because of a terrific referral from a friend.
Rushed as normal due to an extended, discipline-extinct session on Facebook, I didn’t notice that the address I entered into GPS was not actually where I wanted to go.
(Note: Whenever dealing with directional streets, make sure your GPS doesn’t drop the actual name of the street and decide to take you to 109 West Street instead of 109 West Main.)
Because I was listening to a business podcast, trying to multitask instead of wasting precious time in my day, I didn’t notice my final destination was a dirt road in the middle of a ranch until I actually arrived there. Now I was lost and very late.
I called the accountant’s office for directions, mad at myself for not realizing earlier that something was not right. Because I had no idea where I was, the accountant’s office couldn’t tell me where to go. I begrudgingly re-trusted my GPS, extra careful to double-check that the directions were taking me to the real address.
Operating with a faint trace of panic in the pit of my stomach, I pulled back out onto the highway from the dirt road, only to find myself in between an oversized truck and his escort car.
The truck driver was not pleased that I broke his chain, and passed me a little too zealously. While I don’t think he intended to run me off the road, he did lack a basic understanding of how oversized his load actually was and off the road I went to save my car (and my life) from damage.
Slightly annoyed, I pulled back onto the road, knowing I would now be a little later than I already was—except this time I was in between the oversized truck and his exterior escort. Not wanting to be a part of this relationship any longer, I decided to pass all of them. At 85 mph…on a 75mph highway.
Enter the state patrol. At this point, I laughed. I really just wanted to get my taxes prepared; I wasn’t expecting getting lost on a dirt road in the middle of a ranch, getting run off the road by a wide-load truck, and getting pulled over by the highway patrol. It gets better.
Obviously unhappy, the highway patrolman brusquely let me know that I was breaking the law and he would have none of that on his watch.
He requested my driver’s license as standard procedure. As I rummaged through my oversized purse, I tried to explain that I was lost, late, and had just been run off the road by that wide-load truck in front of us, and I was just trying to get out of the way. My wallet was missing.
With a smile, I politely informed the patrolmen that I didn’t have my driver’s license. It was at this point that he chalked up the events of the previous hour to one of those days.
I nodded and proceeded to produce every form of document I had to help him find me in their “system.”
We eventually found it, though it took a good ten minutes (hint: provide your full name, including middle initial if you’re ever in a situation where a police officer needs to find you in his “system”).
I luckily got off with a warning, and went on my way. Miraculously, I arrived at the accountant’s office only thirty minutes late for my appointment.
The meeting was easy because my rudimentary organization for filing my income and expenses was apparently all that the accountant needed. In less than fifteen minutes I was headed home.
It was at this point that I realized how nutty the past hour and a half had been. It was only 11:00am. I had a full day ahead of me. It’s also at this moment when 95% of the population would have chosen to let these events define their day. I had too much to accomplish to let that happen.
The secret to making it out of those days with a sense of peace and calm? A sense of humor, deep breaths, and an appreciation for the story.
The thing is, I was able to understand that I am not my stories. I have good ones, but they don’t define me. They make others laugh and they make great blog posts and Facebook fodder, but they do not define me. I am more than my stories, my body, and my mind. I am better than that.
Give yourself more power than your stories. Rewrite them, edit them, trash them, and rearrange the plot. Allow what comes to come as it may, and then take what works and let go of the rest.
My story is a battle scar, but I cleansed my mind to allow the wound to heal quickly. I didn’t hold on, hold grudges, or hold back. I experienced it all—the panic, the fear, the laughter, the despair. And I moved on.
The rest of my day was not bad at all, but it was funny to watch the reactions on Facebook. To the commenter who observed, “What a day,” I simply replied, “That was only the morning.”
Don’t be so quick to bundle your unfortunate moments with your entire day. Think of all the moments you’re missing out on if you pre-assign them to the same fortune that found you in the past.
P.S. It was worth it. My tax return will pay for a plane ticket to Europe!
Photo by andronicusmax