Essays →

When everything goes wrong

July 25, 2023

It’s just a normal day, at least that’s what you think until reality begins to burst at the seams and nothing that you had planned turns out as expected.

You planned every last detail to make your race day a perfect day. You decide to arrive early to be able to leave your things in the lockers, take a bathroom break, calmly warm up, and get a good place at the start corrals… and someone decided this was the perfect day to block a main road with a demonstration. Not only are you late, but you also have to start the race without warming up and throw your things at your companion (if you happened to have one) because the starting gun has already gone off and the clock is ticking, all this despite the fact that you left your house an hour earlier than usual.

You arrive at work and, even before you can take the first sip of your coffee, you open your email and find a message from a client –with a copy to your boss– demandoing to know why that his order, whick you shipped fifteen days ago, hasn’t arrived… All this despite the fact that yo clearly gave him an estimated delivery time of six to eight weeks. You have to postpone everything important you had to do and dedicate your time to solving this unnecessary that just emerged.

You have your training schedule perfectly tuned to get you in top shape for that marathon you’ve wanted to run for years, and right at the most critical point you hit a bump in the track and hurt your knee.

It’s lunchtime and, just as you’re about to get up from your desk, someone decides that this is the perfect time to discuss with you the details of that project that you’ve been trying to work out with him for weeks… during office hours.

And so throughout life, all your wonderfully detailed plans for how to spend your time become nothing but a beautiful memory and you begin to wonder if the universe has something personal against you.

Sounds familiar?

Although sometimes it seems that some supernatural force has decided to make life difficult for us just for fun, the truth is that we are only victims of our own attachment to the expectations we generate.

We have fixed idea of what we want to do and we stick to it tooth and nail. Of course, as soon as any obstacle arises, our entire system goes into “red alert” mode and tries at all costs to return to the perfect course that we so carefully and meticulously laid out.

Can you imagine what would happen if the captain of an airplane decided to go through the middle of a hurricane in order to keep the course marked in his flight plan instead of looking for an alternate route? Well, that’s exactly what we do.

The anguish and anger at having our plans ruined drives us to focus all our attention on trying to fix what simply cannot be fixed… and we completely forget to look up and see the big picture.

We are so caught up in winning a losing battle that we forget that sometimes the best way to fix things is NOT TRYING TO FIX THEM.

Yes, incredible as it may seem, sometimes the best thing we can do is take a deep breath, take a step back, and rearrange things according to the new circumstances life has thrown at us.

I am not saying that it is not useful and even necessary to make plans, but we have to be aware that everything changes, and that if we are not ready to react with openness and flexibility to it, the only thing we will achieve is to generate even more anguish and anger… both for ourselves and for those around us.

Wouldn’t you rather put all that energy into living a calmer and happier life?

I would. 😉

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