Monday, May 26, 2014

Don't let obstacles block your happiness

Oh no! Something's blocking your way! What do you do?
When we walked into Mississippi Pizza ready to dance to Kory Quinn's music, I immediately noticed guitar cases haphazardly piled on the tiny dance floor at the base of the stage.

"They should move those guitar cases," I told Kirby. "Someone might trip."

The jumble of guitar cases spilling onto the dance floor was a roadblock to our dance plans. And in a way, to my expectations and happiness for the evening. Should I dance and risk tripping? Or just listen to the music from the sidelines and watch the other dancers having fun?

How do you approach life's potential roadblocks?

Do you carefully map out each step and consider potential obstacles to your success before you move your big toe a centimeter? Or do you leap from the ledge, letting the wind take you in whatever direction it chooses, without a care to potential roadblocks that might stand in your way? Most of us fall somewhere in the middle of these two extremes.

Not long ago, before I moved a pinky, I wrote extensive numbered lists of "pros" and "cons of a decision I was contemplating. I carefully considered potential consequences. After I made my decision, I moved at a glacial pace.

But in the past few years, more often than not, I've stood on the ledge and leaped. I might lick my finger and test the wind's direction, but recent experience has taught me that even if you plan very carefully, life doesn't always go according to plan. Let me revise that last phrase: In my experience, life rarely goes according to plan.

What's caused my philosophy to change so drastically? Having the carpet pulled out from under me and falling hard on my rear multiple times has made me a freer spirit. I'm no longer afraid of falling. I've already done it. I plan less and live more by the seat of my pants. So far, in my new normal, that philosophy has served me well.

If we look closely, any situation is fraught with potential obstacles. If I didn't try something because I might fall down, I'd never have an adventure. There is always the possibility of falling down, especially for me. Last year I fell on porch steps, hitting my head, neck and back and suffered a concussion. Many years ago, while sitting on my sister Judy's slick vinyl couch, I did a nosedive onto the floor. I wasn't even moving and I fell off the couch!

I seem to be much more graceful in a dragon boat or kayak, but put me on land, and I may fall down, hard. Without warning.

So as I scoped out potential obstacles on the dance floor, that pile of guitar cases seemed like a doozy. But I didn't let the threat of tripping over guitar cases or any other obstacles prevent me from dancing. I really wanted to dance.

As Kory started singing one of our favorite songs, Kirby led me to the dance floor. I stopped worrying about that pile of guitar cases and enjoyed dancing. Things went well--for about 45 seconds. I'd completely forgotten about the guitar cases until I backed into them, lost my balance, and dipped backward toward the stage, with my head swooping very low.

Thankfully, although I was mid-fall, my hands were still in correct swing dance position, allowing Kirby to grab my hands and pull me back up--without missing a beat of the music.

Perhaps people watching us dance thought, "Wow! How cool is that? Look at that deep dipping move! That couple dances well together!"

More likely people saw the panicked look on my face and thought, "That klutzy woman tripped over the guitar cases and almost fell over backward onto the stage. Her dance partner sure saved her patootie."

I'm thankful I took a risk. Yes, I tripped over the guitar cases, but thanks to Kirby's quick actions, I didn't fall. We had a fun and even memorable time dancing.

Life is far too short to worry about potentially tripping over obstacles. Don't worry that you might fall. Get up and dance--with gusto! See you on the dance floor!

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