We have all heard “save for a rainy day.” If you have ever had a “rainy day” you can appreciate this saying. Having a little extra money during an emergency is a huge relief in the midst of a stressful situation. But what about life’s curve balls that are not financial? Have you spent time mentally preparing for those?
Mike and I spent thousands of dollars to fly to Cape Town, South Africa and hundreds of hours planning our trip. (OK, maybe hundreds is an exaggeration, but it is likely close!) With money, time and good intentions, everything should run smoothly, right? Wrong. Mother Nature had her own plan. Mother Nature caused rough, treacherous seas that made it too dangerous for boats. Mother Nature cancelled our (pre-arranged, paid for in full) cage dive with Great White Sharks. Mother Nature can be a —.
Sure, we knew inclement weather was always a possibility, but we did not plan for it; we just hoped for the best. We had two options when our parade was (literally) rained on. One, we could complain, get upset and worry over something completely out of our control or, two, we could ask for help and plan for another fun adventure.
We chose option 2. A hotel employee helping us make our new arrangements kept thanking us for being flexible and understanding during the whole ordeal. I got the impression she’d experienced the opposite from other guests in the past. We made lemonade out of lemons. We did not make a mountain out of a mole hill. We did not cry over spilled milk. (Are you happy I can’t think of any more clichés? I would keep going if I could!) Instead, with her help, we spent the day sipping wine and eating great food all around Stellenbosch. The day was certainly not lost. (And yes! We ended up getting to see Great Whites still!)
I think this situation is analogues with life. No one wants bad weather, but it happens.
No one expects their home to burn down. No one expects a family member to die young. No expects disease or violence. Everyone knows it can happen, but we do not plan for it. But this is good. While planning for the future is important, I do not think worrying about the future, something we cannot control, does any good. On the contrary, when bad things happen every single day of our life was in preparation for how we handle these terrible situations.
After the initial shock and visceral emotions fade, can we find (or believe there could be) a silver lining? After the tears and prayers can we begin to smile and find hope? After the screaming, fighting and unanswered questions can we find peace and optimism?
I know that my travel comparison above is trivial compared to the scope of the tragedy and heartache humans can experience, but I truly believe the way we handle adverse situations shows the depths of our hearts and souls.
Looking back, I am proud that we handled the let down in South Africa the way we did. Do not get me wrong though. I can throw a fit. I can feel entitled to things going my way. I am far from perfect, but that is why I (try to) practice being helpful, hopeful, honest and happy everyday. This way, when rain and storms come (because they will!) I can smile through the tears, hug through the pain and hope through the fear.