Life would be great if I only knew the lesson of an event before the event. If I knew that my wife would be angry when I complained about Disney food, then I just wouldn’t voice those opinions operatically. What I’m finally seeing is that life’s lessons happen all the time, we just need to see them.
Two experiences, one yesterday and one fifteen years ago reminded me of this. First the more recent one. While sitting in the gymnastics waiting room earlier this week I was talking about books with one of the other parents there. She was well read in different areas of fiction and I found myself noting book after book. She had me excited to read and that night I logged onto my Amazon.com account and nearly ordered some of the Kindle copies – because she read them on her Kindle.
At the start of the year I decided to limit my book purchases and except for a pair of un-regrettable slip-ups, I haven’t missed having the books. Her hour long influence on me almost led me to buy a book. She didn’t make me do anything but our conversation had shifted my framing of the world, from my goal to her norm.
The second episode I thought of was in a driver’s education class. In this class – which taught me more about talking to girls than driving – the students would talk about what kind of cars we thought were cool. We pined away in our wood-paneled station wagons. One night the conversation turned to luxury cars and I declared that my luxury car of choice was clear, the Pontiac Bonneville
“Are you joking?” A girl in the class asked me. (She was a cute one too and her questioning deflated my confidence like a prop tire in Mad Max). “Why, what would you choose?” I asked. Her answer was a BMW or Lexus or some brand of car my sixteen-year-old self had never passed. My sixteen-year-old self only knew about the Bonneville.
I knew because a friend’s parents had them. They were the family where mom and dad had the same style of car and I thought that was cool. I was sixteen. I had recently went out to get ice-cream with them and the Bonneville was bountiful. Leather, CD, sunroof. The car was loaded.
Leaving drivers education that night I didn’t feel bummed out about not having this other type of car my classmate had volunteered. My thoughts were that I would be really happy in a Bonneville.
A final story.
While at Disney we ate at the Earl of Sandwich restaurant. The line to order was nearly thirty people long and all were in front of me. At first I was frustrated. Why can’t that guy figure out a side item? I thought. Then I took a moment to appreciate everything, not whine about the line. I was able to spend eight days with my family. I was in a restaurant I chose over three other good options. At this restaurant I could get any type of meat I desired. I could get my sandwich, toasted and topped in anything from avocado to zucchini. Not only all that, but the bread smelled wonderful and they had fresh fruit for a side item. When I got to the front of the line I was happy and smiling and the meal was great.
We get to choose how we frame things. If I thought the Bonneville was a nice car, then it was a nice car.
The life lesson must be this; we get to choose the stuff that matters. If we choose simple stuff and marvel at the intrinsic beauty then we will be happy.