Sunday, March 28, 2010

Hurdling Over Hassles

Have you ever thought, "I want a better life?"

It all seemed so much easier once..., in the womb. Now life's full of annoyances, inconveniences, hassles and struggles. How can we expect to be happy with all that frustration? And that's just the first layer.

Today I was noticing all the things I had to complain about. I woke up with my nose stuffed up from a cold. One of my dogs is sick and threw up for the seventh and eighth time last night. I woke up at 5 am to take care of him, though he may need an emergency vet visit later today. I think he ate the weed killer I spread yesterday. Who knows? The other dog peed on the floor. Of course, both wanted attention at the same time, and I didn't feel like giving it then. I had more important things to do, like getting to the grocery store to pick up breakfast and a mop.

So, did the hassles stop when I jumped into the car? No. I glanced into the mirror and saw I had not shaved nor combed my unruly hair. Then I realized I couldn't see though the car windows. The cold night had frosted them. I rolled the windows up and down hoping to clear them but that didn't work, so I had to get outside and wipe them down. After I missed a couple of traffic lights I always make, I got to the grocery store and grabbed a small cart in the parking lot and wheeled in from outside. I soon realized the handle was way too cold, and felt fortunate to discover a warm handled cart inside.

Quickly though, my good fortune turned (and I mean that literally) when I realized that the warmer cart consistently pulled hard right. I thought at first I had developed an equilibrium problem. In addition, my right arm, working hard to keep the cart straight, began to ache. Was I having a stroke? In fact, I nearly knocked down a poor women using a cane. A left-handed bowler would have liked the hook action and the spare gained by knocking the cane (and Grandma) over. Everyone else would have been appalled. Fortunately, I kept yanking left and just missed her. The Kroger staff thought I had a really bad tic problem. No one suspected the cart. I just lowered my head and weaved it down the next aisle.

Okay, so this is a typical weekend day. Things did not go exactly as planned. Hassles abound. Today it was the cart and dogs. Tomorrow the cable will go out before the final-four game, and the sick dog will feel well enough to dig a hole halfway to China in the back yard. Life happens. You're going to get a headache, even a migraine once in a while. You are going to be yelled at by some mean-spirited women who didn't like your knee in her back when you sat your long body into a cramped theater seat and realized too late that sitting normal would have required you to buy two $70 tickets so that you could (semi) comfortably drape your legs over the chair in front of you. You still might have knocked into the patron two rows forward.

What else? Your car window will stick, just as you are pulling up to the drive-in window. The guy at the window will yell at you to come inside to pick up your meatball sub. You will hit your head for the twenty-third time on the too-low car ceiling as you step out and have to ask someone to read you the twenty-third psalm right then before you lose consciousness and die.

This is life. It just is.

And that's my point. If you really believe your life will or should be hassle free, then please start a travel agency with low-price tickets back to the alien world you came from. We'd all like to travel there. Today. However, if you plan to stay here on earth, you will have a highly predictable amount of hassles that come and go randomly pretty much every day. You will also be hit with some more difficult ones. Hang in there. Face them with agility.

What do I mean, "Face them with agility?" I guess what I'm saying is that you can face these pretty much unpredictable-predictable hassles in a couple ways. One is to get upset, to blame, complain or throw a tantrum (inside or out--it doesn't really matter), or you can leap over them without really breaking stride. I mean, think about it. Say you're a hurdler coach and your best runner decides he or she is just going to plow into the hurdles and then make a big fuss when he or she halts to a painful stop. What do you tell him? Aren't you going to show him how to sail over the hurdle with speed, power and agility. Aren't you going to tell him to take a few steps and sail over the next one and the next one all the way to the finish line? Because there are going to be hurdles to spring over or to trip over, depending on your agility level. Here's a hassle, sail over it. Here's another, now leap. Drive forward, go. No whining, no complaining, no "woe is me," and no outbursts--just calm, assertive power. Pure mental agility. Your serenity still intact. Your life smooth and dynamic. Wow! Blissful,isn't it?

I'm impressed. Others will be too. The first level conquered, the level of natural, expected hassles hurdled like a pro. Once this happens, you will be ready to take on level two, the hassles you have created and have sustained despite thinking they were not your fault. You will pour your energy into tearing down those brick walls later. For now, just enjoy the predictable-unpredictable hurdles that are sure to come your way spontaneously, no matter what. Expect them. Note them when you see them. They make life a little more interesting. Then leap over them like an Olympic athlete. No big deal. Everyone, including you, will be glad you did.

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