A few days ago, I stepped out onto the porch and turned my face to the sun, basking in its rays and the promise of a beautiful day. A rainstorm during the night left the earth smelling damp and pleasantly pungent. I opened my mouth and took a deep breath to fill my lungs with the bracing morning air, and promptly swallowed a bug. Back into the house I went, coughing and smacking my chest, in search of a drink of water to rinse the taste of gnat from my mouth, my enthusiasm for my morning’s activities somewhat diminished.
Admittedly, it was quite a tiny creature, but still…yuck.
It’s not a big deal; I get that. Who among us hasn’t swallowed a bug or two in our lives? We’ve all been there. Yet, it’s those small but unexpected irritations that can so often derail my positive outlook. I stand, ready and eager, to partake in the banquet of life – and instead I end up with an insect for breakfast.
Sometimes, like that morning, it’s a literal bug, but more often it’s some other annoyance that pops up in the course of an otherwise lovely day. There are people with too many items in the express lane. Some guy ruins the green light for me because he’s fiddling with his cell phone. Telemarketers call repeatedly. The toilet paper roll is empty AGAIN. The radio keeps playing the same Taylor Swift song over and over and over. I stop and smell the roses only to have a bee fly into my nose.
When this happens to me, I find that there is only one thing I can do: Get over it. Or, more accurately, I have to get over me.
It’s not always easy. At times, I can be temperamental. I like to have things done in a particular fashion, in the right way, and by the right way, I mean my way. As you can imagine, this is not a recipe for contentment. Intellectually, I realize that. Emotionally, however, my reaction is not always so evolved. My constitutional tendency is to desire that events will follow the course that I set.
Life isn’t always on board with my plans, however. Most days I realize that, and I just shake off my disappointment with minor irritations and move on. Other times, I’m not so resilient. On those days, I have to decide if I want my life to be perfect or if I want my life to be happy. Perfect isn’t possible, so I might as well grab happy with both hands.
I try to remember that, but I’m human and I don’t always make the best choice. I forget that if I have my hands full with happy, I won’t notice the bugs quite so much. Or to put it another way (which I will, as I like to get the greatest possible mileage out of even the weakest of metaphors): The banquet of life might serve me a bug for breakfast, but I’ve no one to blame but myself if I go back for second helpings.
I think there might be the makings of a song somewhere in those last few sentences – just don’t let Taylor Swift sing it.