Life has a habit of throwing you curve balls. Sometimes a lot of curve balls. Sometimes all at once. The trick is to keep your eye on the ball. And perhaps not get hit by it. Sorry for the baseball analogy; couldn’t resist. The trick really is to learn how to become adaptable. To bend not break as Ping Fu wrote in her book of the same name. She was talking about bamboo, which bends in strong winds, but never breaks. Bamboo doesn’t break because it’s flexible. It’s resilient. For humans, this means being adaptable to the circumstances in which we find ourselves. This was a huge life lesson for Ping Fu. One we all know at some level, but one that doesn’t always sit forefront in our minds. For example, we’ve all heard that there can be no rainbow without the rain, no spring without winter, no joy without pain. For Ping Fu, it was about thriving in life. And how well you thrive depends upon how you approach your life circumstances. If you can accept what life throws at you and embrace change, then you’re more than halfway there.
I learned to adapt and to accept whatever came my way. I had to learn this the hard way, but it was truly a worthwhile lesson. Long story short, my first husband had major surgery after we had split up and he had just moved into his new apartment. I became his nurse of sorts as well as patient advocate. I was with him in the hospital just about every day. I interacted with the doctors when he couldn’t and I sent email updates every day to all who loved him. And I helped him with whatever he needed, including doctor visits, etc., for the entire year it took him to recover. Fifteen years later, he’s doing extremely well. Curveballs like that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Most often though, the curve balls are tiny ones that even a peewee leaguer can hit.
A few weekends ago, I talked my husband into going up to Foxwoods, mainly because a good friend of mine was going to be there with her husband. She’s never met my husband; I’ve never met hers; and obviously they’ve never met each other. So we thought it would be fun to finally all get together and have a drink or dinner or something. They ended up running late and couldn’t make it to dinner. And they had a show to go to, so we couldn’t even meet them for drinks. We ended up never seeing each other! But, my husband and I had an amazing time. We sat in one of the bars, had a few drinks, and just talked. For hours. It reminded us of when we first started dating and how we used to sit for hours and hours just talking. We experienced each other in a way we hadn’t felt in a while and it reconnected us on a deeper level. Sure, I was upset that we couldn’t all meet for dinner. My friend and I had wanted to get our husbands together for months! I was disappointed for a few seconds, and then realized it was an opportunity to just enjoy my husband.
Another example happened two years ago. We had planned a trip to Las Vegas for my birthday weekend, in August. Yes, we’re a little crazy. Yes, Las Vegas in August is HOT! But there’s so much to do indoors 😉 Unfortunately, about four weeks before my birthday, I somehow got an ear infection. Yes, yes – I’m an adult. Adults don’t usually get ear infections. Believe me, I’ve heard it all. So, I spent one week on antibiotics with no impact, and had to go back to the doctor who then prescribed a different antibiotic. After just 24 hours on the new medication I could tell it was working. Alas it was too late. We both knew I couldn’t fly with an ear infection, thus we cancelled the flights and the hotels and started searching for alternatives.
So we couldn’t go to Las Vegas…
Some would say this is a blessing! No gambling – No losing! But, for me and my husband, it’s not about the gambling. Well, not totally. It’s about being together, experiencing beautiful hotel rooms, relaxing spas, massages, acrobatic and fun and witty shows, and amazing, amazing food. Las Vegas has some of the best restaurants! But our favorite part is the entertainment we get just sitting in a favorite spot and watching people. There are women, made-up beautifully, well-coifed, and dressed to the nines, walking hand-in-hand with guys who look like they just rolled out of bed. I don’t get that. There are older couples on their way to a show holding hands and obviously still in love. So beautiful! There are the drunken fools stumbling down the street thinking they’re deceiving everyone. And my personal favorite, the young women in 5-inch heels who clearly cannot walk in them! Where are their friends? Why doesn’t someone tell them they look ridiculous? Did I ever do this?
Well, this was not supposed to be about Las Vegas. It’s about being adaptable. Going with the flow. Accepting what life throws at you. Rolling with the punches. Bending with the wind. You get the idea.
When vacations go awry. This has actually happened to me twice! And each time it happened, there was some initial disappointment, then acceptance, then a renewed energy as new possibilities started bubbling up. In this instance, we ended up planning a road trip to Old Quebec. Yes, that’s a very long drive from New York. And it was a wonderful experience. Even the driving. Even the hour-long wait at the border to get back into the US. It reinforced how in tune my husband and I are with each other. We didn’t get on each other’s nerves at all! I think we were both a little surprised at that.
But, the bottom line is that life is so much more enjoyable when you can accept that the only constant is change. Be open to the possibilities just around the corner. Acknowledge that you cannot control everything. Understand that things will break and kids will get sick and traffic will happen. Learn to laugh at the world. And with it. What’s that famous saying by John Lennon, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” So step up to the plate and hit those curve balls out of the park.