“No one is so brave that he is not disturbed by something unexpected.”
We’re going along in life, planning the next day, the next week, the next month, the next year, our next move. We prioritize our lives and actions, setting in place a brilliant strategy for doing those things that need doing.
And then something happens. Something unexpected, either in time or scope. Something unwanted, something terrible, something that was not part of our plans.
And in a trice, everything changes. Our priorities, our focus, our brilliant strategy. One moment we feel in control, the next we’re completely adrift. We instantly recognize that Robert Burns was right:
“The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley.”
It happens to all of us. It’s part of life. And it’s always lurking right around the next corner, waiting to spring upon us and unravel everything we’ve diagrammed for ourselves.
When the unexpected occurs, when our lives “gang aft agley”, our priorities immediately reset. What was vitally important a moment before is now dispatched to the back-burner. Our focus shifts from “out there” to “right here”. We shift from strategic to tactical: “What’s next?”
Yet even in the most unwelcome occurrences, blessings may lie within. They provide an opportunity to re-examine our priorities, to choose those things that are truly important. They can show us our true strength. And perhaps most blessed of all, we can show up as our best selves for those who need us to be nothing less.
In the maelstrom of dealing with the unexpected, it can be difficult to focus on anything beyond putting one foot in front of the other, moving deliberately toward recovery and reconnection. Perhaps that is a blessing, as well. It keeps the important in the forefront.
Robert F. Kennedy said, “Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live.” That’s as good a chunk of wisdom as anything I can come up with.
We live, we plan, we hope, we get smacked down, we respond. Such is the journey.
I’ll leave the last word to author Richelle E. Goodrich:
“In a world full of commonplace tragedies, only one thing exists that truly has the power to save lives, and that is love.”