Earlier this week I was uncharacteristically mesmerized by a sports article. Phil Mickelson, a highly accomplished professional golfer, was thrown a proverbial curve ball of bad luck just before he attempted to make a putt. The green was clean and unhampered as he carefully connected with the golf ball, just before it was to head into the hole, a very small errant leaf blew onto the green landing directly in the balls path—causing just enough of a diversion that Mickelson missed an easy shot. The pictures in the article tell the whole story. Some call it a freak stroke of bad luck. I call it Life’s Reality Check.
On the opposite side of things, I had what some may call a stroke of good luck. The other day I was teaching a live cooking class for a local business. I always send my ingredient list ahead of time so that they can have everything ready for me. One of the dishes that I was going to make out of freeze-dried foods was a Mexican Chicken Corn Chowder. Obviously, in such a dish, the corn would be important, right. Well, without telling me, the business simply did not furnish the corn—not in a freeze-dried format or any other. There was nothing. No note. No substitute. Nothing. So here I am in front a classroom of people without my star ingredient for corn chowder. I noticed that the store carried pre-cooked beans that you only need to soak for about 20 minutes in hot or cold water prior to eating. So I decided on the fly to make a chicken chili using the pre-cooked black beans that were on hand. As it turned out, the revised plan turned out DELICIOUS and is now one of my favorite easy dishes that I plan to make repeatedly. I’m actually happy for the missing ingredient mishap.
So, what do I believe is Life’s Reality Check? I believe it’s the teacher in our lives that tells us that no matter how planned out we have things, life tends to throw us a curve ball. One may believe they are intended for greatness as a doctor or a lawyer only to find themselves derailed into another highly fulfilling career—as in Warren Brown’s case (Government attorney turned star of Food Network’s Sugar Rush and Cakelove series.) Perhaps there could be a 12 year old who creates her list of criteria for her “Dream Guy” only to end up marrying the REAL man of her dreams who didn’t meet the 70% of the list requirements. (As in my case with my Prince Charming) My point is two-fold.
onsFirst: Preparedness doesn’t come into play when we’re confronted with the opportunity for action—whether it be faced with housing down-on-their-luck family members, escaping a house fire, or suddenly discovering that you have to have 5 dozen cookies made for your third grader. Preparedness begins in our soul. The time to be prepared is BEFORE the events come into our life. Yes, the events themselves will help us prepare for the next step and the next, but when the opportunity presents itself and requires us to show ourselves what we’re made of, the time for preparation is over. We either have it or we don’t.
Second: In spite of all of our best planning, we will still get thrown curve balls. An errant leaf, a car accident, and surprise visit from a long lost friend, or an idea that comes out of the blue that changes your life. These kinds of moments require our spiritual and mental preparedness to accept them, embrace them, and work through them with all of the grace and integrity we can muster. It would be a shame if we were being led to a moment of joy and happiness or growth and peace only to go kicking and screaming, right? Kind of ruins the ambiance of the moment, eh?
I look back on several areas of my life, and if I were to pinpoint an area of regret, it would be that I didn’t roll with more punches. I wish that I had learned sooner the wisdom of “That which doesn’t kill me will make me stronger.” Or another of my favorite quotes, “Don’t pray for God to move the mountain, ask Him for a rope and a pair of hiking boots instead.” I wish that I could go back through some of my challenges with more maturity and more acceptance. I’m sure I could have grown more personally and been a better influence on those I have loved.
I think it’s interesting to note that Phil Mickelson didn’t throw a temper tantrum when he missed his putt. He didn’t curse or swear. He simply accepted that this little leaf just landed where it was going to land and that was it. And yet conversely, in this same meet, Tiger Woods, who had much better “luck” still carried on with verbal assault and 2-year old without a nap style of behavior—in spite of never encountering a fluke act of nature.
In the spirit of Preparedness, I hope that we can learn to better accept the curveballs that get thrown at us and demonstrate our acceptance of them by doing our best to prepare for them now. Fortifying our spiritual and mental strength, along with all of the other Principles of Preparedness, will serve as proof that we have indeed chosen to accept Life’s Reality Checks and are committed to thrive as a result of them.
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