Roll with the Punches

After an unplanned delay on the return leg of a trip the three of us took other day I had a chance to see how my boys would handle the unexpected. To my delight they rolled with the punches, acknowledging that they would’ve liked to have gotten home as scheduled, but they also seized the opportunity to continue the adventure we had set out on a few days earlier.

The ability to handle surprises gracefully is a quality of character I sought to develop while traveling around the world in my late teens and early 20s. The world can be an unpredictable place despite our best efforts to force it to comply to our rhythms, and I found ample opportunity to relax when the frustrations to the expected flow occurred. What interested me most about the exercise was that the reactions of others who were not so inclined seemed even more irrational when observed from a state of calm acceptance.

I also realized that acceptance does not imply acquiescence. Momentary acceptance allows you to relax with respect to the new constraints so that like water in a blocked stream, you can find a way to flow around the frustration. I’ve heard this state described as “active abiding” and I rather like that term.

The next time your life snags on sometimes unexpected, take a moment – before you react habitually! – and say to yourself “It matters not to me, so let it be.” Like birds chirping their melodic vespers, repeating this grounding phrase will clear the air and prepare your heart and mind to receive the wisdom you will need to overcome the obstacle with grace, balance and aplomb.

4 thoughts on “Roll with the Punches

  • There are obstacles that create life challanges and obstacles that are clearly inconvenient. I’ve learned that both come and the inconvenient ones are a great place to practice the arts of graceful acceptance and patience. The challanges usually require that plus forgiveness or resilience that may test our mettle. In my experience children often mirror the adults in their world as they learn to roll with the punches or attemt to steamroll their way through the unexpected.

  • This is an attribute that is vital to have if you are going to be successful in the world. People that are not able to roll with the punches end up craving a smaller and smaller world where they seek to limit the unexpected, and eventually they either get it or something in the world that is larger than them happens and they can’t adapt. This is a skill to have and to continually refine if you have any desire to have a meaningful life.

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