Reality can be a cold hard truth. Whether we realize it or not, we are constantly living with expectation. We are clothed in our biases and our preferences. And sometimes we want our ideas to be ultimate truth so badly that we go ahead and assume it is. And then, when something happens to definitively reveal how wrong we can be, how out of control we are, it can be devastating. This is why people are in counseling after the Game of Thrones finale. As long as the series continued, there was hope it would end the way they wanted. The reality and finality of the show ending has literally shattered people’s psyches, which is sad on a lot of fronts.
We experienced this recently on a trip to South America. We were flying from New York to Manaus, Brazil. From there, we were taking a small private charter plane deep into the Amazon.
Only, that didn’t happen. Long story short, we were delayed FOR FOUR DAYS.
As trying as the experience was, there was that one definitive point when we realized we weren’t going to make it in time for the charter flight to the jungle. Our trip wasn’t going to happen. Lots of time, energy, money, and expectation wasted. Or, at least, spent differently than we intended.
We got a second wind of hope when another trip (this was for work) was scheduled for the following week. So, we decided to press on to Brazil and make the trip the next week. Only, that got canceled as well.
It is a long, hard fall from expectations to reality. The cold, firm ground of truth has an abrupt power. After four days of delays, missing luggage, and cancellations, we were feeling it.
Loss of Control
One of the professors at our school gave a bonus assignment to the freshmen this year, asking them to write about their idols. He shared with us that almost every one of them said the exact same thing.
We idolize control.
We think if we can plan carefully, anticipate risks, and work very hard, we can control our circumstances. It is a bit childish. And if you ask us, we will tell you we know we can’t control everything. But boy do we try.
Reality is a humble reminder of exactly how far our control reaches. There was nothing we could do to avoid the delays we faced. Just like there is often nothing we can do to avoid the cancer diagnosis or the sudden bankruptcy of the company we work for. Our responsibility invites us to prepare as much as we can, just as we had done for our trip. But reality is beyond our control. It is all a house of cards. And the sooner we accept it, the better.
The hard thing about our delays is that we somehow felt responsible. Like it was our fault. We started to diagnose all the things we could have done differently. Although sometimes this is helpful, it is always an attempt to salvage our idol – to regain control.
Reality is coming. It is here. We can hide from it, deny it, and avoid it. All of us do, to one degree or another. But it is there. Firm and unwavering. Ready to humble us.