What Doesn’t Kill You
The gate agent came on the intercom and called boarding group C. Those people already huddled around the door awkwardly merged into a mass that resembled a line. I stayed in my seat. After the crowd had filtered through the gates and I had given them a bit of time to stow its baggage, I stood up and proceeded to the ticket taker with carryon in hand.
Two other passengers had adopted my same approach. Sometimes it’s just not worth fighting, standing, and waiting for the overhead bin space. As we rounded the bend in the ramp, there was still some backlog. We somehow got to talking. An athletic woman in her late 40’s who was wearing one of those velour track suits shared her reason for waiting.
A few years earlier, she and her husband had been building a new house. She went to the site one day to survey the construction, and wandered up to the third floor. That’s the last thing she remembers. Somehow, possibly due to a loose board, she fell through the floor and landed awkwardly on her back on the floor below. A construction worker found her and called an ambulance, which transported her to a hospital.
After several emergency surgeries to fix her spine, she lay recovering and bemoaning her fate. She shared with the doctor that she had spent her whole life exercising like crazy and building up her core and back muscles in order to avoid having back problems in old age, and now she would forever be plagued with them.
The doctor changed her perspective with only a few words. He said that if she hadn’t had such strong core and back muscles, the fall would have most certainly killed her.
This story, while heartwarming, also demonstrates another fact of life – things rarely go according to plan. Three thoughts:
1) “Plans are useless, but planning is essential.”
2) A song I’ve always loved is actually an essay written by Mary Schmich and set to music by Baz Luhrmann. It’s called Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen). The line that comes to my mind over and over again is:
“Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.”
3) “Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college, but it was very, very clear looking backwards 10 years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backwards, so you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something—your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever—because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well-worn path, and that will make all the difference. ” – Steve Jobs, 2005 Stanford University Commencement Speech