This is What Winning Looks Like!

This Thanksgiving Day, as I was driving through the seasonally colorful landscape of Indiana on the way to my wife’s family for the holiday, I thought back to our last trip to Ireland in 2014. It was about halfway across the Atlantic and our daughter Meghan was not sleeping well on the plane. Patricia and I had passed her back and forth a few times and she was now on my lap as I tried to doze off so as not to be quite so jet-lagged when we landed in the morning. I had just drifted off when Meghan shifted rather energetically, kicking me solidly in the abdomen. I came awake with a start and muttered, “I just can’t win!” Patricia looked over at me from where she was having even less luck sleeping and replied, “This is what winning looks like!”

I let that sink in. She was right, of course. Here I was. My beautiful daughter resting in my lap, beside my beloved wife, taking a group of 21 students, clients, family and friends on a two week trip to Ireland – and I was still finding something to complain about. It was true that there was really nothing I could do about my predicament. The airplane was full and it was clear that none of us were going to sleep. All I could do was surrender, which is not my forte. But the surrender meant I no longer was struggling to make the situation other than it was, and the next thing I knew, we were landing at Shannon. 

Isn’t this often how it is? We run into a little turbulence and all at once we can’t see all the blessings of our life – only the trials. It is so easy to let the little exasperations derail our day, our experience of the moment, our life. So this has become my spiritual practice for the past several days – to focus on the things that make this life so full and enjoyable and worthwhile; to accept those tribulations that arise and not struggle with them, trying to make them bend to our wills. 

Some difficulties are easier to surrender to than others. Some get pretty sticky, and I find myself caught by them and dragged into struggle. But generally, this practice has helped me to be more grateful and appreciative of all the amazing people in my life and all the blessings that surround me. With all of that, even the sticky problems are a little less insurmountable. 

May your holidays be filled with the blessings of your ancestors!

 © Kenn Day 2017