There’s this weird thing about us Type As—we always need to feel ready and prepared, even if the situation doesn’t warrant it. We don’t want to ever be caught short. It’s as though we are afraid of being criticized, or maybe we are putting up somewhat of a front or facade.
The problem with this need for constant readiness and vigilance is that it can rob us of simple pleasures. I fall into this trap regularly. Every now and then I see the light—and an example of this occurred to me just yesterday.
My wife and I own a couple of condos that we manage as rental properties. A renter recently moved out of one of our units and I was meeting a contractor there to coordinate a few repairs before the next renter moves in. I decided to meet the contractor in front of the building since I hadn’t given him the unit number.
Well, the time had arrived for him to be there and apparently he was running late. Unfortunately, I had forgotten to bring my cell phone (I am retired, remember!), so I couldn’t call him to find out how late he would be. I was unexpectedly stuck waiting, which can be annoying and frustrating for a Type A like me.
The condo building has a concrete walkway and stoop leading to the front door. On both sides of the walkway are grassy areas with trees. The condo faces a busy street, which is the direction the contractor would be coming from. As I began waiting for him, I first chose to stand on the concrete stoop in front of the door, anxiously eyeing the traffic to see if the contractor’s car was approaching. I knew the building was easy to find, so it wasn’t an issue of him having to see me to find the building—I just wanted to watch for him, I guess to see him coming at the earliest possible moment.
After about 15 minutes of standing like this, I realized he must be running quite a bit late, and I was getting tired, so I sat down on the concrete stoop. I continued to try to keep an eye on the traffic. Even though I was now sitting, it was hot and the sun was still beating down on me. The concrete stoop quickly became uncomfortable.
It finally dawned on me that I could sit in the grassy area in front of the condo, underneath a shade tree. This would be much more pleasant, and I would still be where I needed to be as the contractor pulled up; there was simply no need to be looking for him as he approached. (Why it took me so long to realize this simple fact, I can’t discern. Maybe a team of psychiatrists can figure that one out.)
I eventually decided to lean back on my elbows, in a half lying position, which was even more comfortable and relaxing. Then, I finally relented fully and just lay down on my back, and began staring up at the sky.
Well, after a few minutes of lying on my back, in the soft, cool grass, under the shade tree, and looking up at the clouds, I began to enjoy myself. I mean really enjoy myself. It was so peaceful. What a lovely day, I thought. I no longer worried about the contractor and what direction he would or wouldn’t be arriving from. Who cares? I was enjoying life on this fine day. I began to hope he wouldn’t come soon, because I didn’t want to be interrupted!
As luck would have it, he soon pulled up in his car, apologizing profusely for his lateness. Something about a burst pipe at his previous job, and water flowing everywhere.
None of that really seemed to matter.
I was calm and serene. I had found a silver lining in the midst of a cloud, having given myself rare permission to experience joy.