The Hidden Thrills of Cancelled Plans

As I write this post, it’s pouring here in Washington. Buckets. Cascades of cats and dogs descend from leaden skies. So much so that my phone has beeped at me twice, alerting me to potential flood warnings—given that I reside at the top of a hill, I probably won’t get washed away. The weatherman even joked it was getting time to build an ark. In other words, today’s a perfect day to be tucked indoors, excused from any forced marches or socializing. For those of you who have kids, these sorts of meteorological conditions may not be ideal—whiny, bored children bestow their own particular form of torture on the adults around them—but for the rest of us, rainy days provide the perfect excuse not to do anything. Having checked that my basement isn’t sodden, I can relax and contemplate all the activities I like to do when I’m unable to do those things I should. Delicious possibilities abound…

How do you feel when your plans get canned?

The freedom you feel when you receive this sort of reprieve is an excellent analogy for how it feels when you re-boot your life. Sure, there may be disappointment or frustration that plans got wrecked, but all of a sudden your time is your own! You can make a new plan, one with loads more adventure and personal satisfaction than what you thought you were going to do, and who doesn’t like that? The rain that makes it impossible to watch a baseball game provides the impetus to dig out our old monopoly set—the one with the real, metal playing pieces—or crack open that musty book we’ve been meaning to read or dedicate some focused thought to whatever project or problem that’s lurked in the webby corners of our minds.

In fact, gaps in our plans are a lot like the spaces in between words, bodies, glances, or scenes. Pregnant pauses such as these are alive with electricity just waiting to be channeled. This is how we need to see re-booting, not as a gaping maw which terrifies us, but more along the lines of a door that’s cracked open, if only we have the courage to push it forward.

What would you like to push forward? What new setting do you wish to explore?

One of the things that helps direct my thinking when it comes to re-booting and what I want for my life is remembering some of the best compliments I have ever received. Not only does doing so make me feel all glowy inside, it reminds me of personal strengths that others have observed—strengths I might just as likely dismiss as unimportant or not that good. When we take the time to recall the kind observations others have made about us (and who doesn’t remember a good compliment), it brings to our attention certain characteristics that we may have taken for granted, assuming that this must be true for everyone, when it isn’t.

What are some of the best compliments you have ever been given?

Sometimes compliments come from strangers or mere acquaintances, but they still count. These things they say touch some special part of our heart, confirming for us just how brave or beautiful or welcoming we are. One of the nicest tributes I ever received was from a man I don’t know that well who said, “I never have to worry if you’re having a good time.” His comment surprised me; it would never occur to me that anyone would have such concerns—but some do. I liked the fact that he felt relaxed enough to say that; it’s a small thing, but I’ve always remembered it. It made me feel good to know that he felt good around me. While there are more accolades that come to mind, I’m not about to trot out a list of them here; they’re for my own, private ruminations for moments such as these, wet, summer afternoons when I don’t have to be anywhere else. It is times such as these when I can indulge myself with speculation as to how I might create more of the same in my life going forward. What might I do for myself to feel as good as I do listening to their kind words?

My point to you is this: rainy days and cancelled plans are like pregnant pauses. They’re filled with possibilities if we take advantage of them. Re-booting is that pregnant pause. Compliments give us hints at our strengths.

If life presents you with found time, how do you want to spend it? In which direction will you head?

Rainy day


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