Posted by: howvoicebegan | 25/03/2012

When All Else Malfunctions, Make Lemonade

Clearly I have been adopted because I did not inherit the worry gene. In fact, I often laugh when I find myself in situations that people typically panic in. “Of course this would happen to me precisely at this time,” I think.

I’ve long ago come to terms with being able to remain calm in situations beyond my control. I think I have been that way for years, but being in Africa heightens the intensity and frequency of these events. After being robbed nearly a year ago, I realized just how little meaning those pieces of plastic– both monetary and of the cell phone variety– really have in my life, and just how replaceable they are. You can spend years or a lifetime preparing for the disaster of stolen necessities, and once it happens, you think, “Was is really that bad?” No, it wasn’t.

So when I found out two weeks ago that my plan to board an Iberia Airline flight was not compatible with an airplane malfunction, I did the exact opposite of what my anxiety-driven relatives would do: I checked into a hotel and went to sleep for the night. I wasn’t sure when I should arrive at the airport the next day, or when my canceled flight would be once again taking off, but I knew it would work out somehow.

With scenario two, I'd have just as much luck as asking this goat in Dakar to help fix the airplane.

Waiting at the other end of my flight was my childhood friend, Amanda, whom I hadn’t seen in 10 years, waiting to greet me in Senegal. I envisioned two scenarios: one of her receiving email updates to know when to actually arrive at the airport to see me, or the other of her giving up and going home, and I try to find her in a Francophone country without knowing an address or a telephone number, equipped only with the practiced phrase, “Parlez-vouz anglais?” Yes, I could foresee this scenario working out quite well.

This was beyond my control. I can’t make a plane run that isn’t working. I can’t change layovers, roll back the clock, or board another plane to my discretion. So, I let it go.

I arrived in Senegal only four hours later than originally scheduled. And Amanda was there to pick me up.

Having managed that, I was prepared to take on the world. So on the first day of my trip when I encountered my next malfunction, my camera, I knew it was no big deal. We still had fun (and plenty of pictures) with her two cameras. Even on my way home with a full day stop in Spain, I didn’t worry about the camera malfunction. No, I didn’t buy a new camera, nor did mine start working, nor did I get a disposable. I picked up some cheap postcards of exactly the same things I would have taken my own pictures of, claimed them as my own, and enjoyed my day wandering around the city without worrying if I had taken enough pictures.

I have always enjoyed the frankness in Jesus’ teaching, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” in Matthew 6:27. Worrying about an airplane, a camera, or credit cards counts for nothing.

What do I do with “worrisome” situations? I write them down and make a memory out of them. It’s called turning lemons into lemonade.

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