My mind whirred to life, like a computer booting up from sleep. I was awake, but my eyes remained closed. After a momentary delay, my ears tuned in to the hushed symphony of rainfall. Not a storm, not a weak drizzle, but the sustained sound of polite applause.
My mind turned its focus to the day ahead. My Monday morning to-do list was waiting, and my brain divided against itself. “It’s important to start the week off strong. If you give in at the start, the rest of your plans have no chance,” said one side.
The other half calmly responded, “Mornings like these don’t come along very often. You may not get another one for a very long time.”
I opened one eye and located my phone, carefully unlocking it long enough to turn off the alarm. I rolled over, put my arm across my wife, and savored some extra time being serenaded by Mother Nature.
This might sound like the justification of a procrastinator. I assure you I am not one of them, at least when it comes to work. I tend to err on the other side, too busy working to smell the roses, or in this case, listen to the morning rainfall.
I owe much of my success to my work ethic, my planning, and my to-do lists. But once in a while, we have to be willing to scrap our original plans and surf the wave of spontaneity. Sometimes life gives you a better offer, and I’m learning there is wisdom in not being so quick to turn those offers down.
On this day, at this moment, I was given an opportunity to enjoy life, not simply race through it as if it were an obstacle course of never-ending to-do lists. I took it.
Science tells us that humans are more afraid of losing something we already have than we value gaining something we want. Sometimes the thing we are most afraid of losing is our imagined idea of how we expected our life to go.
In different seasons of my life, I’ve wanted to get paid to paint portraits of athletes, illustrate movie posters, and become a nationally syndicated cartoonist. I also expected I’d marry a brunette.
Am I a failure because these plans didn’t pan out? No, I released those dreams because in each case, life ended up giving me a better offer.
I loved our backyard, a magical woodland stationed with pine sentinels. As I write this, excavators are ripping most of them away after a terrible storm pushed them over like a giant-sized game of pick-up sticks. It’s hard to see anything good coming from it, but if I squint carefully, in my mind’s eye I can make out a backyard that’s even more magical, one that will give birth to even better memories.
Life rarely goes as planned, and that can be painful sometimes. It’s easy to find ourselves holding on to an idealized vision of a long-hoped-for future. But those clenched fists prevent us from being able to receive what’s next.
Life might be giving you a better offer.