Sometimes events conspire and life becomes a series of missteps. And in the midst of any given situation, it’s hard to figure out when something that happens is a bad thing or a good thing. To wit, I recently traveled to Long Island, New York to help my much-loved cousin close out and put up for sale the home in which he grew up, as his mom passed eight months earlier.
It was a bittersweet week and when it came to time for my flight home, it was impossibly sad to say good-bye, made exponentially worse by a stormy day with torrential rain. I arrived at JFK on time but, in my angst, went to Terminal 1 rather than 2. After running thru the terminal looking for Delta, I realized my error. The fix? I had to walk to Terminal 2, which isn’t very far, except for that horrific storm. With no option, I walked in the rain with my two suitcases and arrived as wet as if I had just showered. I lumbered through the terminal, waited patiently while shivering through security only to realize that I stupidly packed a set of silverware in my carry-on. EIGHT KNIVES in my bag!!!
Of course it was throw out the cutlery that belonged to my beloved cousin or check my bag. So off I went, out of the secure area and returned to baggage check. Ok, all good now, right? Well, not so fast. I was shivering from being wet and cold and now a massive anxiety attack filled my core. Then I found out my flight was delayed from 3:30 to 4:30, so more time in the terminal. I managed to find a sort-of warm spot not far from the gate. Remember I was in the midst of a massive anxiety attack? Well, in managing the swirling energy within me I guess I lost track of time. Finally, I went to the gate because I heard no boarding announcement only to find I missed the flight! How could I have missed my flight? How could I be so out of it? I was so upset with myself, that, with this news, all my strength left me and I dissolved into tears. The gate agent took pity on me and put me on the next flight, scheduled to leave at 7pm. I was distraught, to say the least. Then distraught turned into full-fledged distress when that flight departure was pushed to 11pm. At that point, a mess of tears and snot, I called my cousin, sobbing my story into the phone. Of course he insisted on picking me up and this is where the story takes a turn.
While in New York, I made a new dear friend, Heidi, who does a lot of air travel booking and has connections at the Delta platinum flyers reservations desk. She was able to reschedule me for a flight for 11:25 am the next day. Of course my suitcases flew on that first flight and she was able to track the baggage tags and found my bags safe in Delta’s baggage claim office in Fort Lauderdale. Greatly relieved, I was able to relax somewhat. The thing is I was still no angry with myself for missing that flight. I mean, I was really tearing myself down for this series of mistakes I felt I made. And then, in the midst of my self-abuse it all changed with the news that both flights I did not take were severely delayed as a result of the weather! The original 3:30 flight that I missed was on the ground for nearly four hours and didn’t get into Fort Lauderdale until after midnight. The second flight didn’t arrive until 4am. OMG, missing my flight saved me from sitting in a stuffy, crowded plane for more than seven hours! Missing my flight turned out to be a blessing! Rather than a harrowing experience in all that bad weather, I got to spend a bonus night with my cousin and Heidi and her husband, had a lovely dinner, slept well, and went home on a perfect flight in clear and beautiful weather. I even had the whole row to myself and I got my bags easily and quickly.
And if that story is not enough to convince you that we never know the blessing that is contained in the things that happen, here is another example of you never know! Last year, on February 14, I sprained my ankle while out walking largely because I wasn’t paying attention to where I was stepping! By not being present to what I was doing, I fell into a hole! I was really annoyed with myself as this was a huge inconvenience, not to mention very painful. The sprain caused me limp which is another way of saying walking off-balance, which caused something in my spine to shift which led to a sciatica attack (way much more pain) which led to compression of my femoral nerve which led to muscle weakness (i.e. quadricept not working, so unable to lift my right leg) which led to back surgery … all within 10 weeks of the accident! OMG. I sprained my ankle and then needed emergency back surgery to release the nerve. It’s terrible, right? Well, on the surface it was. But here’s the thing. Just a few months later, I was completely pain free. All the pain and sciatica issues in my lower back that had plagued me for decades was alleviated by the surgery which was a direct result of that sprained ankle! Once again, what initially appeared to be a horrible turns of events ultimately turned out to be an incredible blessing.
Be a Savvy Senior. The next time you think something bad is happening, remember you can’t know the outcome. Just because something seems catastrophic at one moment doesn’t mean that something wonderful won’t come from it. Always know that blessings can disguise themselves as “bad” stuff so be open to the possibility that good will come no matter what it looks like on the surface. Blessings abound. We just have to recognize them.