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.