“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”
A few weekends back, my boyfriend and I were about to go for our weekly bike ride to the Italian Market in South Philly. We were geared up with backpacks to mule our goods back home, our water bottles were filled and the bikes were outside. My front tire was low, so my better half ran back up to the apartment to grab our bike pump. Ten minutes later, it didn’t work; and I had even less air in my tire.
“We have a backup!” He runs three floors up and down again with the second bike pump and…. it was a repeat. BOTH of our air pumps were busted.
I was feeling pretty prickly and hot with frustration by now. The whole day had been unexpectedly complicated. Like “the clouds formed a big middle finger the moment I stepped outside” kind of day (I know you’ve seen that meme!). We were FINALLY just able to hang out with each other and ride our sweet bikes into town.
ME: “F*** this stupid f****** day! With this beautiful sunshine, smiling in my f****** face and these two pieces of f******* s*** pumps not doing their f****** job…..” On and on. I was serious. “F*** the sun for being so amazing.”
We decided to just take quick (and careful) detour to Cadence Bicycles, get our tires pumped and then head down to South Philly.
Just a few blocks into our detour, I see two familiar figures perched along the wall on the river. Pedaling closer, I realized that it was our friends. The four of us have not been able to be in the same place for well over a year because of our crazy schedules – touring musician, teacher, general contractor & business owner… The setup of a bar joke; but that was later.
My attitude took a turn. I was reminded of the story of a Taoist Farmer whose horse ran away. His neighbors sympathetically exclaimed at his misfortune, but the farmer remained unswayed and only replied “maybe.” The next day the horse returned, bringing a few more horses with him. The neighbors joyfully exclaimed at his luck and the farmer remained unswayed, again only replying “maybe.” His son then rode one of the wild horses and broke his leg. “How unlucky!” But when the army came to draft young healthy men for the war and passed him by, “his luck has returned,” exclaimed the neighbor.
This isn’t about luck, good days, bad days, or feeling bad about feeling bad (which is a neat thing I do, more on THAT another time.) It’s about the unfolding of life moment to moment.
Do we DARE to sit in acceptance of it rather than being jolted around by polarizing emotions. IF my tire wasn’t flat, IF both of our stupid f****** bike pumps did their jobs, IF my day was “easy” and things just “went my way,” we wouldn’t have taken the detour that led us to our friends. Our entire beautiful day wouldn’t have happened as it did, and I would have stayed mad at the sun.
So, what are the difficult “busted bike pumps” in your world right now? What are you viewing as an obstacle that could in fact be an opportunity for something even BETTER than what you had originally planned? Do you dare to sit unswayed, especially when others may view your circumstances as “good” or “bad”? Can you let go of the notion of what IF?
Welcome to Live Free or Die, a monthly column on LIVING rather than just being ALIVE.