(Written Wednesday, September 9)
I woke up this morning at 5:45 and went out for a walk with a thunderstorm looming.
I’m generally an early riser – not this early. But yesterday at work, something happened. It was one of those things that, in the grand scheme of things is so small, so minor and so insignificant that by all measures it should have passed by virtually unnoticed.
So I did what I often do. I went through the roof.
Do you have those things in life or is it just me? I wish someone would invent right-size drops that you could put on a problem to tell you if it’s a big problem, a small problem or not a problem at all. Can you imagine? If the drops turn the problem green, go on about your life and don’t give it a second thought. If the drops turn the problem red, it’s major and you need to deal with it. I’d buy gallons of the stuff and use it generously. The truth is, most of what I call problems would be green.
Anyway, I don’t have the drops and this incensed me. I left work mad. I worked out mad. I came home mad. I watched the pilot episode of “Northern Exposure” (whose main character, Joel, may be the television character with whom I relate most in life – especially in that episode). I went to bed sleepy and woke up at 5:45 still mad.
When I woke up, I could hear thunder in the distance. It wasn’t a storm that was right on top of us, In fact, I couldn’t even see flashes of lightning. And as I lay there and listened, it wasn’t moving in quickly. But there was thunder on the horizon, and I decided it would be cool if Henry and I walked through it.
It was a great walk – one of my best in a long time. As I walked, I thought about the problem, and here’s what I surmised.
The problem is real. Having friends and colleagues who are facing major problems in their lives, mine is minute in comparison. But it is real. I made the decision a long time ago that when something upsets you, you cannot dismiss it as “nothing.” At the same time, you can’t give everything the same weight or you’ll be as upset when you drop a crystal vase as you are when you break a $2 coffee mug. Problems have scale, and have to be viewed in the proper perspective.
Unlike the thunder on the horizon (of which I have no control), I am in complete control of how I react to and live with my problems – including this one. I can chart its course, give it weight (or not) and choose to make it a big deal or put my imaginary right-size drops on it, watch it turn green and let it go.