This is the story of the unexpected and finding the hidden serene.
The story that almost doesn’t get told because we’re too stumped to recognize what’s in front of us. We fail to see the offering.
This isn’t a story of always seeing the positive, but rather, that beauty can still exist amid the chaos.
We can find there’s possibility beyond what we didn’t plan for.
If we are willing to see instead of react.
Pause instead of play.
And turn on to what’s around us.
This is the story of spilled cereals.
Of power outages.
And seeing what we didn’t see before.
Yesterday I prepared breakfast as usual for my daughters. A morning unlike any other. It’s a time I’ve actually come to dread because the moment their feet meet mine we enter a non-stop carousel of questions and demands.
I need water.
I need potty.
Mama, can you the spoon get for me?
No, I don’t want eggs.
“Leave me alone,” is all I really want to shout. Admittedly, sometimes I do.
But this particular morning–yesterday–it was different. Maybe it had something to do with making the most-perfect cup of coffee, or actually going to bed on time, but either way, I was ready to be there for breakfast.
As I was thinking happy thoughts of our morning, it happened–the unexpected. My daughter accidentally bumped her cereal bowl and the contents spilled out on the table.
I was more confused than upset. Maybe slightly annoyed. What? Really? The moment was just so perfect. Nonetheless I calmly went over to wipe it up. She apologized, which made me sad. How often do I get upset over these things?! I said that wasn’t necessary–it was an accident. I reassured her she’d get more cereal.
As I volleyed between the sink and the table, she began to play in the milk. (Ok, that was upsetting me.) I attempted a redirection and even in that moment I still thought, it’s really not that big of a deal. She is just being a kid. I let it go.
Once all the Cheerios and craisins were cleared, I noticed it. The beauty.
The spill perfectly reflected back the lamp above it. Not just any lamp–the lamp I’m always so excited to record. Whenever I see it in these new ways–typically through my screen when the camera is faced up–I can’t help but pause. It grabs me every time.
And that’s when the words formed: the unexpected. There is beauty in the unexpected. Here, right now, in the middle of it all, is a beautiful moment. One I almost missed. Had that spill not happened, surely we would have went on through breakfast, on to the next thing. But that spill–the very point of chaos–reminded me things that are messy can still reflect back what is beautiful. Life could be messy AND still beautiful. Imperfect moments are still beautiful. Unexpected moments are still beautiful.
Maybe you’re reading this and you don’t understand what I mean. Your life is tip-top and all your T’s get crossed. You never forget the i’s. The unexpected doesn’t get to you. But if that’s not you and you’re a little more like me, isn’t it something? Our need for control is what ends up controlling us! The need to have it all figured out. All planned. All managed. ALL SYSTEMS GO. We don’t leave room for much else.
I certainly don’t make space for the unexpected. I like things very planned out, thankyouverymuch. I’d argue I actually spent a great portion of my former career as a teacher making it my job to have things very well planned out!
I suppose by definition, I can’t make space for the unexpected, that is, I can’t predict the future. But what if–could I– instead make space for it when it does happen? Because inevitably it will happen. It always does.
Like when, after breakfast and morning play yesterday, I decided it was time to shower. And as soon as I got into the bathroom the lights went out. Damnit! I totally forgot about the power outage. This is actually a funny one because it was a “planned outage.” Meaning, I actually could have planned around it, but when you’re on Year 2 of the Pandemic and the world’s at war, you have little capacity left for power outages.
The morning’s incident wasn’t lost on me. In fact, I said in a muster-up-the-energy-kind-of-way, “the unexpected, Christina!!! You can do this.”
And then later? My child had a bathroom accident at the mall.
Later after that? All-afternoon tantrums.
Yes, it was definitely getting harder and harder to be pleased with the unexpected.
And, really, that’s where I’m going to leave it. I recognized it’s not possible for me to find the joy, the beauty, in every situation. Some situations are just not going to bring any pleasantness. The point isn’t to find the beauty in everything, but maybe just maybe every once in a while we can find it in some things. We can be slower to write off the unplanned as unpleasant and instead see it’s not all so bad. Sometimes, it’s actually quite surprising in the best way possible.
Maybe not all unexpecteds cause alarm. Maybe they cause pause. Cause gratitude. Cause looking a little deeper. And seeing something more.
Here’s to more pausing, less huffing.
More patience, less rush.
More open, less closed.
You can do it.