“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” Victor Frankl
I woke up this morning to the intermittent sound of a chirp. It wasn’t unusual. I often hear a chirp or a whistle floating through my bedroom window just before the early sunrise. Most of the time, the chirp becomes a melodious sequence of bird whistles and songs. A beautiful sound to wake, rise and shine to. I rolled out of bed and prepared myself to take on the day in uplifted spirits. A new month was already in progress and today was the start of another new day. It stretched ahead of me, waiting to be shaped. And I was the sculptor who would do the shaping. I was absolutely giddy with motivation and excitement for how I envisioned the day would develop. I identified little targets to hit by certain hours until dinner. At the end of each target reached I was to tick ‘done’ in my planned and bullet journal.
I had much to accomplish in terms of writing in the morning, and in the early afternoon, I programmed my mind to run a few errands, and nothing was going to stand in my way. First things first, a cup of coffee, a few early morning phone calls, a shopping list, responding to email, (tick, tick, done) and then I settled down to spend a couple of hours doing research for a speech preparation. The chirp escalated, becoming more intense. I followed the sound into the hallway leading to the other end of the home. Ah, there it was again. A chirp. Had a bird flown into the house? It had happened once before when I had left open the balcony door. I was excited to perhaps have a visitor from nature’s avian beauties if only for a moment before I would set it free to fly out to the open. I followed the rhythmic sound as it became louder. I reached the source. To my utter dismay, it was the smoke detector on the ceiling indicating batteries needed replacement! I checked the batteries and realized I didn’t have the correct replacement size available in the house. I would need to purchase one. No problem, I thought. I’ll just add that to my afternoon schedule of running errands.
I set to work on my writing, which soon became an exercise in futility as I realized that my internal unconscious bias had been turned on. In a matter of a few moments, what I had thought was the most pleasant chirp of a bird had become the most annoying, aggravating, repetitious dissonance. I needed to take care of it if I wanted my day to go as planned. I immediately shifted my schedule to run my errands in the morning.
In the car, I made a few stops, took care of essentials, dropped off some groceries to an older friend, picked up the batteries and headed toward home when a light in the instrument panel indicated that one of my tires was low or flat. I pulled over at a gas station and, true to the indicator, I had a nail lodged in the rear passenger side tire. Probably a slow leak which needed to be taken care of right away. I filled air in the tire and drove to the tire company to take care of the flat. It would be an hour before anything could be done. I waited. Tire fixed, I returned home to address the chirping smoke detector. I felt really smug about myself as I changed the battery. I waited. No chirp. Yes! Mission accomplished… I thought. In the midst of settling down to do my writing, to my surprise, there it was again. The chirp. This time I tried removing the entire detector and realized it was one that was electrically wired into the home system. I did my research and after a number of calls to professionals, I was told the entire system would need to be changed as this was an old one and not worth the repair. Could anything else go wrong?
Which made me think– how often in life we allow a word, a sound, a smell, or an event to transform our emotional state from happy to unhappy. With only an hour left to myself before my numbered planned hours would expire, I had no other control over this external situation; I did however, have control over my internal one. I would have to shift my perspective from thinking the day went “wrong” to “not as planned.”
“How was your day?” asked my husband.
“Not as planned,” I answered.
“Let’s go out for dinner,” he said.
Sometimes, the best moments happen unplanned.