As much as I hate to admit it, I am, at heart, a pessimistic person. If something isn’t going quite right, I immediately go to the worst possible scenario in my head. It can be as simple as the printer not working correctly, and within a nano second I’m mentally scanning through our Quickbooks P&L spreadsheets, wondering how in the hell we’re going to pay for a new printer and feed and clothe our family. Or it could be moderately serious, like the fact that Shawn just shouted to me from the driver seat of the bus that the gas gauge is currently reading below empty when only 2 hours ago it was half full.
Okay, so that might actually be a serious problem.
But regardless of the reality of each given situation, a couple nights ago, as I lay anxiety-stricken in the humming stillness of 3 am, one single thought struck hard across the face of my conscience: you have to get positive or you won’t survive this trip.
In the past 7 days, I have learned quickly that things will go differently than planned most of the time on a trip such as this. The dump station that you go twenty miles out of your way to use will inevitably be out of order; the dvd player on your computer will stop working right before your children’s much anticipated viewing of “Star Wars”; or the contents of your modest refrigerator will dump out all over the floor leaving shifting puddles of watery milk in the main thoroughfare of your living quarters.
Thankfully, a very wise woman told me, right before embarking on this journey: “Maile, there will be a lots of situations that are out of your control on this journey. When those situations arise, remember that the one thing you can control is your reaction.” Contrary to my initial understanding of the concept, “controlling my reactions” does not mean going hoarse from shouting at my children or stink-eyeing my husband or crying in the corner of my bed while pushing fistfuls of Kookaburra licorice into my mouth. It means finding the tiniest sliver of the faintest glimmer of a bright side, and looking for the lesson to be learned in each mishap and then learning it.
So what’s the nugget of wisdom from our immediate situation? Well, things aren’t always as bad as they appear. Our gas gauge still reads far below empty yet we continue to barrel down the highway with a roaring, satiated engine behind us. And if, in the next 15 minutes, we come sputtering to a stop on the shoulder of I-64 in central VA…somehow, someway, it will be okay.
Just call me Pollyanna.