Sometimes it seems as though there’s just no way to get what we need – or want. With today’s headlines, it’s certainly hard to see how things will turn out okay for us, our country, and our world. But then there are stories like the one my daughter told me this week.
She lives in Savannah and had to take a short flight to Atlanta before connecting with a flight to New York where she was going to visit a dear friend for a couple of days. She was scheduled to take the first plane out of the very small airport and, since there was plenty of time, she let others get in front of her in the restroom line. Then she followed the last woman to the gate for her flight. Just before she was to go through the gate, the agent barred her way and told her she was too late, she’d missed her chance to board that plane. My daughter was startled, and then angry. She’d literally been on the heels of the passenger ahead of her. She started to argue with the employee at the gate and then saw by the determined set of her jaw that it would be pointless.
My daughter was dismayed. The connection in Atlanta was very tight and she’d really been looking forward to this short weekend trip. She pulled herself together and said with as much calm respect as she could, “What’s my next best option then?” It was the gate agent’s turn to be surprised – she’d clearly expected an argument – and she said, “Well, we can put you on standby for the next flight to Atlanta.” My daughter agreed – even though she knew her assigned plane was still on the ground.
Then, as passengers boarded the new flight, she waited patiently to hear her name called. She waited and waited, but there was no standby announcement. Finally she did hear her name called and she walked toward the gate. Then – she found that the delay had given her a chance to look out into the waiting area in time to see the passengers from her original flight pouring back into the airport. It turned out that an electrical problem had grounded that plane. My daughter’s bad luck had become good luck and she was going to get to New York for the weekend after all.
I’ve long noticed events like this one, events that I call “just the right wrong thing.”
There are times when we’ve assumed that things are going against us, that there is no way things can go well, and then the “wrong thing” becomes part of what is going to turn out all right. An earlier WINN post – “Next?… After Trump’s Election,” – says this through telling one of my favorite stories, versions of which have been found around the world for centuries. (If you’d like to read it, go to www.WINNpost.org and scroll down to “older posts” at the foot of each group of articles until you reach that one which was published on November 11, 2016.)
We can only lead our lives with as much clarity, intention, and kindness as possible and then trust the flow of events. Of course some things just do go badly from start to finish. Still, it’s wise to face what is real, to treat everyone (including ourselves) with respect and compassion, and to find out what’s “the next best option.”