Saturday, July 7th, 2012
Twenty-Two Months After the Fire
Hello Dear Friends,
Well, the new house is not quite finished. Since the lease ran out on Rental Number Four, Nellie and I are spending the week in a hotel here in town. It’s only a week, so in the grand scheme of things, no big deal, but I find it funny that after writing “Sliding Into Home” I am still “stuck on third.”
A friend of mine once told me a great story about an experience she had with delays. She was driving home late one night on a two-lane country road, way out in rural Ohio. She’d just come from a long series of meetings about a big project she was working on, and was frantically worrying about all the tasks she had to accomplish. Suddenly, she saw a huge construction sign loom out of the dark, flashing, “EXPECT DELAYS.” She slowed down and kept looking around in the darkness for equipment or road construction, but never saw anything out of the ordinary, just the lone sign in the middle of nowhere, flashing out its message. She realized it had probably been left behind accidentally by construction workers, but being a contemplative person, she decided to take it as a sign from the Universe – “Expect Delays.” She decided, as an experiment, to consciously practice giving up expecting anything to happen on time. It turned into a wonderful practice.
During the course of her project at work, each time they got behind schedule, the rest of the team would freak out, but she would smile and think, “Ah! Expect Delays.” Eventually, of course, the project was completed, only a bit behind schedule in the end, and she had learned a great lesson about expectations and serenity. She said the experience changed her life; all because of a flashing sign in the middle of nowhere.
In our culture, we love deadlines and timelines, and we love to chop time up into little pieces that we think we can parcel out and control. We take a complex process like building a house and try to put in on a schedule. We wonder, “How long will it take to finish the house?” So we come up with an arbitrary number of months and then try to make reality match our expectations. And all the while, the Universe chuckles, and flashes its little sign, “Expect Delays.”
I, of course, have been chomping at the bit to get home for the past two years, and have badgered my poor contractor incessantly. “When are they pouring the foundation? How long will it take to dry? When do the framers start? How long will that take? When does the drywall go up? How come we’re behind schedule? Is there anything I can do to move things along?” Jerry, with infinite patience, replies, “Nope. This is just the nature of construction. Things happen.” And, of course, things do happen. And that is not only the nature of construction, but of life.
In spite of my fussing, this whole burning-down-the-house experience has taught me so much about letting go, not only of “stuff,” but of expectations. It has taught me to focus less on the future (What if…?) and more on the present (What IS.) It has taught me to be more spontaneous, and it has shown me that in many ways, for many years, I have been a prisoner of my own expectations. It has taught me to not only expect delays, but to roll with them, and to look for the hidden blessings in each one. It has shown me, ultimately, how to be more free.
So this week, instead of being home, I’m in a cute little hotel suite in town, where it is pouring, pouring rain. Nellie is sitting at the window, watching the world go by, and I have some quiet time to sit and reflect on the last two years, and rest a bit. Just one more bend in this long road. I wonder what’s around the next corner…
Enjoy the week and all it has to offer,