Focus on the
of life, and
“What a strange thing!
to be alive
beneath cherry blossoms.”
― Kobayashi Issa, Poems
Spring arrived early this year but barely made a ripple in the southern atmosphere as it painted our world in pastels, a relief considering the thrashing we took in the late winter months. The cherry trees in the yard bloomed bigger and the petals fell earlier leaving behind small orbs of dark red, eagerly devoured by chipmunks scampering though the branches like tiny acrobats. The testosterone ravaged birds arrived, puffed up and singing loudly, happily, uncontrollably. They staked their territories, built fine nests of pine straw and dried moss, cleverly disguised above the bird feeders lined like smoke stacks along the branches. The turf wars began. The squirrels, ready to feast at the tables set before them, were shamed into retreat by the flurry of beating wings, warriors suspended in mid-air. The rains came, barely making a ripple and our world rested, preparing for the inevitable arrival of summer, and a backyard truce of sorts.
“I finally learned that it’s not worth getting upset over things I cannot control,” replied the gentlemen in the window seat of my crowded first class cabin as he sat patiently waiting for departure information. Our aircraft was still parked at the gate, when at this point it should have been comfortably cruising at 30,000 feet en route to Boston. I’m sure I began resisting panic mode as soon as I realized that this particular mechanical delay would more than likely turn into a flight cancellation leaving many passengers stranded, missing connections, not to mention mind numbingly angry.
My window passenger had been calmly holding his coffee and gazing outside at the tarmac as I began nervously soothing frayed nerves and offering more drinks. After a few strained exchanges with other passengers, I returned to him and both apologized for the delay and thanked him for handling the situation so calmly. He shared that he would be soon missing an important meeting at his destination, and then added the words that I will always remember, a philosophy that continues to resonate with me and one I’ve shared with my children. I’ve used it as a mantra, both left unspoken and said out loud many times, often shortening it with a shrug and saying mostly to myself, “I can’t control this.” It has cleared my head and given me a focus in situations that would send another person into nuclear mode.
Last month I was traveling with my daughter to the West Coast to help her settle into her freshman year of college. To pass the time I began sharing funny airline tales from my long ago career, knowing that our conversation’s path would take us to the most important destination, the story of a wise stranger I had met along the way, a story that I hope will follow her throughout a long and fulfilling life, along with the wisdom that will keep her grounded and present in difficult situations and grant her peace and acceptance, as it did me.
Had I been equipped with waders, I’d have gladly splashed into the middle of this stream of indigo blue, and followed it joyfully until it ended in a puddle or grew into a river, most likely in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. For then I would have truly known what it was like to have gone with the flow, found that life is a journey and time is a river, and in the end, discovered what I knew all along ~ that life is good.
“Like a twig” quote by John Candy
“Life is a Journey” by Jim Butcher