It floated effortlessly in the air across the opposite lane of traffic. It caught my eye as it passed over the left lane of my side of the highway and a gust of air lifted it up just enough to get over the hood of my truck and became stuck on my antenna. “What are the odds?” I thought, “that this plastic bag and my truck antenna would meet at the exact time and place where it would be snagged and now dragged?” It made an awful noise flapping in the wind. There were too many vehicles on the road to stop and of course a traffic light or stop sign was nowhere to be found. The antenna bent abnormally and because of it’s style the bag was gripped and not going anywhere. Finally, I arrived at a red light and when the truck came to a halt the plastic bag slipped from the antenna and blew away to aggravate someone else.
After the light turned green I made my way to an appointment and reflected upon the way life brings both good and bad things into our path. We aren’t expecting, nor could we arrange the blessing or perceived curse coming our way or manipulate the circumstances to embrace or avoid what we encounter. What we have the power to do is move forward, accept what comes and hope for the courage and humility to deal with the things which float into our lives and attach themselves to us.
Last night I had to confront someone on a bad decision they had made. It wasn’t easy. I’m not one for confrontation. I would rather build someone up, encourage them, congratulate them on their progress than look another person in the eye and tell them they’ve made a bad decision. However, this is what friends, mentors, leaders need to do and refusal would mean to abdicate our responsibility.
This gentleman is in one of my incarcerated father groups and he chose to get in a fight with another man in his pod after the two had unkind words with each other. As a result he has to serve thirty days in the maximum facility portion of the jail. I had heard about the scuffle before he came to class so after he came in I found a moment to ask him about it. This big man, six inches taller and quite a bit wider than me, quickly looked down at his feet and admitted what he had done. “You’ve got to make good choices!” I told him. “Good decision lead you to better places, bad ones bring you here, to stay.” He shook his head and told me he was sorry and that I was right. We didn’t have time to talk about it longer but set up a time to connect next week.
Confrontation, butting heads with someone, going toe to toe, eye to eye isn’t easy but at times is necessary. However, this can’t be the end of the conversation. When we sit down and speak about the matter I will encourage, remind him of his progress, how far he’s come and that he’s smart enough and good enough to learn from a poor decision and keep moving forward.
On my way to a meeting today I was stopped at a red light waiting, patiently as I could, for it to turn green. From a side street an ambulance and another emergency vehicle pulled onto the road and my focus went from the red light to the flashing ones racing to an unknown destination. They faded from sight and I went back to waiting for the green telling me to go. The light finally changed and I released the brake, pressed the gas and moved forward. However, I noticed that the vehicles on the side and behind me didn’t move. This is when I realized that after the distraction of the red strobe lights my focus went to the wrong traffic light a street ahead of me instead of the one I should’ve been fixing my gaze upon. Slamming on my brakes, trying not to look too foolish, I waited on the correct light to turn green and then slowly proceeded.
Laughing at my ineptitude I also reflected on the importance of keeping our focus. Many times we get distracted by a flashy and noisy world which can lead to unfortunate events, losing our way, embarrassment and regret. Wisdom helps us make sure we know where, why, and when we should move forward and when to wait.
Our Siberian Husky, Trooper, is always ready to go outside, move, run, play, do something!
This morning, as usual, when I came into the kitchen to take him out he was already standing, tail wagging and tugging on his leash. I reached to unhook his leash but because of his excitement and anticipation to get moving he was pulling it so tight I couldn’t unhook it. “Trooper, honey, you’ve got to go back so I can let you go.” He took a couple of reverse steps, I released him, opened the door and he went bounding into a new day.
I had a conversation with a friend earlier this week who’s had a tough life. There are many issues as a grown man he is still dealing with which stem from events in his past. During our conversation he said; “I’d like to move on with my life but I’m stuck in a cycle of bad choices and worse consequences. I don’t know how to move forward.” I lovingly replied; “Trust me. I’m speaking from personal experience. If you don’t deal with what has happened, come to grips with your pain, betrayal and loss, you won’t be able to let go and move on.”
As I washed dishes this morning I thought about Trooper, my friend and myself. Wisdom teaches us to live in each present moment, to flow and exist in the rhythm of our lives. However, this isn’t possible if we have not acknowledged and accepted the events, trauma, joy, hurts, people, situations, decisions we’ve made and were made for us, that have made us into who and what we are today.
When we come to grips with how we are molded by the past we can then choose to presently be reshaped by grace, love, forgiveness and peace. Only when we go back, can we let go and move forward.