158

“Anything you can’t control is teaching you how to let go.”

~ Jackson Kiddard

 

Several weeks ago, I received a mysterious letter in the mail. Since last year I have changed to online statements for all my accounts, and this envelope did not look like any solicitation company, so I was intrigued. To my surprise, it contained photos of my black CRV, as well as my license plate. It was one of those dreaded red-light camera tickets, blast it! For $158!! Double blast it!! They even provided a link to a low resolution video, where I could see myself “sort of stopping” and then turning (no full stop), so apparently there is no escape! Triple blast it!!!

My first thought was that it was a scam, since the return address was somewhere in Arizona, not from the city where event happened. I did some online research and found that although the Mayor and some city officials were supposedly against this camera, they still approved its installation. I realized that this camera brings in a lot of revenue to the city, so it’s very doubtful it would be uninstalled any time soon. Although this violation has no points against my driver’s license, it could be escalated if not dealt with.

My choices are to ignore, pay or fight it. I would try the latter option. I would go before the judge and plead my case and mention how the “intent” of the camera was really not to prevent accidents, but to bring in revenue. It was also very impractical at that intersection, since anyone who actually stops, would run the risk of being rear ended (because it’s Miami) by other drivers. As I was getting ready to figure out how to appeal it, I mentioned my situation to one of my friends, and I asked if he could recommend a lawyer who did this sort of thing. To my amazement (since he’s not one to do this), he proceeded to tell me a story.

A senior monk and junior monk were traveling together, when they came across a river with a strong current. They saw a young woman trying to cross the river and having difficulties doing so. She asked them to help her get across. The two monks looked at each other with doubt, since they had taken vows never to touch a woman. Then, suddenly, the older monk picked up the woman, carried her across the river, gently placed her on the other side, and continued on his journey.

The younger monk could not believe what he had just seen! After rejoining his companion, he was speechless. An hour passed. They continued walking side by side. Then two hours passed. Not a word between them. Then three hours. Finally, the younger monk could not contain himself any longer, and said “As monks, we are not allowed to touch a woman; how could you then, carry her across the river?” The older monk looked at him, and replied “Brother, I sat her down on the other side of the river. Why are you still carrying her?”

I realized I had been carrying this ticket situation for much longer than I should have, and it had gotten me anxious, frustrated and angry. More importantly, it was robbing my mind of concentrating on other issues that should be occupying my time and energy. I decided right then and there, that the right action was to just pay the ticket. I mailed a check that same afternoon (online payment had $5 additional fee, so out of principle, they were not going to get another penny out of me!). The second after the envelope fell inside the mail collection box, I felt a heavy weight lifted off my shoulders. That is what peace of mind feels like!

Are you still waiting for the lesson of the story? Well, there isn’t one! Although we should always try our best, sometimes events simply do not go our way, and that is fine. Let life be what it is. We don’t have to win all the time. When things don’t go as we had planned, just absorb it, make the best decision for that moment, and move on, like the older monk. That way we won’t carry the weight for longer than necessary. Well, maybe there is a moral after all.

 

jon-flobrant-rb7-lca_diu-unsplash

Photo by Jon Flobrant on Unsplash

Dorian

“Every problem has in it the seeds of its own solution. If you don’t have any problems, you don’t get any seeds”. 

~ Norman Vincent Peale

 

Hurricane Dorian is currently about 50 miles off the eastern coast of Florida, crawling along slowly. This brings something that we humans are not used to, uncertainty. We usually believe that we have most situations, other than disease, death and others, under control. We try to plan for most eventualities, have emergency funds, backup systems, etc. But when events do not go according to this plan, we basically have three options.

One option is to confront situation head on and proactively. In case of hurricane, we gather our troops closely, buy water and canned goods, fill up car with gas, put up shutters, etc. This means staying to experience the hurricane, and to be without electricity, water, food, for some time. I have experienced this during Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and again during Hurricane Wilma in 2005. Experiencing a Miami summer without AC is definitely not pleasant or recommendable! I remember counting the hours until the sun would set, so temperature would cool down a bit, and so then we could huddle around candles and play cards or listen to battery powered radio. You later tell yourself this is making you stronger, but at the time, you wish it to be over IMMEDIATELY.

A second option is to leave and avoid any strife. I chose this option in 2017 when Hurricane Irma, a category 5 storm, was heading straight to Miami. I reached this decision after thinking of the days without AC and electricity, and especially of the devastation it caused in Puerto Rico. This was not easy because it meant leaving my dad and siblings, who had decided to stay.  So on one hand you have peace of mind because you will be OK, but you also experience guilt because those close to you are not there. So it’s not complete peace of mind, because you keep asking yourself when does your responsibility to others end and the responsibility to yourself begins? Thankfully, the storm did not hit Miami head on and we were more fortunate than our Caribbean neighbors.

A third option is to do nothing. This was basically my family’s strategy during Hurricane Andrew in 1992. I was a teenager, but I don’t remember buying enough supplies or boarding the house. I do remember huddling in one internal hallway of the house we were renting at the time, and hearing the hurricane growling outside. I felt the windows and roof shaking, and feeling they could blow up at any moment. That was one of the most frightening experiences ever! In our defense, early 90’s technology, communication and hurricane knowledge were not as advanced as they are now. Although we survived unscathed, other than losing electricity, our neighbors to the south in Homestead suffered for many weeks and even months, and many lost their homes for good.

However we have reacted to these Mother Nature problems in the past is how we tend to approach life’s problems. Some people tend to face situations head on, prepare well, communicate the plan to all within their group, and stay the course. If we all understand that we have done our best in any given situation, meaning we had good intentions, created a reasonable plan, and then followed through, our results should closely match our original plan. If we tend to leave when life becomes too difficult, and leaving could be physically, mentally or emotionally, instead of confronting the root issue, we will never grow as humans and will be unable to face future problems alone. In the same manner, if we don’t do anything, and expect a situation to “magically disappear”, which may happen sometimes, but most likely, it will reappear later in a stronger way. Then it may become an unmanageable problem.

By the way, I am not suggesting that life’s problems have one single approach. Life is much more complex and we may never find out if we made the correct choice until years later. Sometimes the correct approach may be to leave, sometimes it may be to do nothing, or even a combination of approaches. However, we should reflect on how we personally behaved in the past and try to notice if there is a pattern to our behavior and how we have handled problems. We have no control on how others act, but we can definitely monitor and have intentions for our own behaviors, and with resilience and patience, we can grow as decision makers. Take a look at your personal “Dorian” and make a decision today.

 

jens-lelie-u0vgcioqg08-unsplash

Photo by Jens Lelie on Unsplash