Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Life's little sub-plots

Boy,  just when I think I am getting back in the groove, I encounter another minor bump in the road.

Sunday afternoon I was all set to hop on the rower for a 10K row.  About 1000m in, my digestive system forced me to abort the row in favor of an extended visit to the porcelain throne.... Ughhhh.   Seems I got hit with a bit of food poisoning.   Sunday and Monday were spent largely in bed and in the bathroom.   I'm feeling much better today and might even venture a go at the erg this evening.

My little battle with food poisoning is what I like to refer to as one of life's little sub-plots.   It's a metaphor that was suggested to me by one of my best friends from my first job out of college.   It has stuck with me through many years.

We all have a vision of what we want to do in life.  That may be a long-term goal of where we want to be in 5 years, or when we retire.  It may be a shorter term goal of the 5 things I want to accomplish this week.  Or even the one thing I want to accomplish today (like my 10K row on Sunday).  These things are the main plot of our lives - our lives as we have scripted them. 

But the reality of life - at least as I have experienced it - is that much of life is actually lived in a of a bunch of unscripted sub-plots.  Sometimes these sub-plots will advance the main plot of your life -- a friend offers to take your kids to the park for the afternoon and you suddenly find yourself with a couple hours of free time to tackle one of those 5 things you wanted to get to this week.    Sometimes they seem to derail your plans and keep you from accomplishing what you want to do -- a fender-bender on the way to work forces you to "waste" hours of time getting your car fixed, contacting insurance companies for estimates, arranging for transportation, etc.

More often than not, we have no control or influence over the sub-plots that land in our path.  Life just deals the cards and we have to work with the hand we are dealt.   It is easy to get frustrated when the sub-plot you find yourself in seems to completely derail your intentions.  But sometimes these detours may be just what you needed, giving you minor corrections to your long-term plans, or perhaps giving you insight (or battle scars) that will help you with the next sub-plot you find yourself starring in.

At times when I find myself buried in one of these sub-plots, I like to remind myself of a quote by Teddy Roosevelt:

"Do the best you can, with what you have, where you are."   

Wishing that I am not sick won't get me more time on the rower - that is not "where I am".   Where I am may be sick in bed.  Being resentful that someone else may have more free time to do something I would like to be doing doesn't advance my situation - extra free time is not "what I have".   What I need to focus on is doing my very best to accomplish the tasks at hand and, if possible, return to the main plot.  "Doing my best" means using every asset at my disposal, in the current situation I find myself in.

I try not to get too hung up about sub-plots.   Ultimately, they are a big part of the story line.   I just hope there are not too many more food poisoning sub-plots in my future!  But if there are, I just hope to do the best I can, with what I have, where I am.

1 comment:

  1. That's a very cool way to look at these inconveniences - maybe I'll think of that instead of grumbling next time something derails my plans.

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