We all want things to go as planned. It seems a like a huge disaster when something happens to throw us off track… if people are watching, we can feel humiliated, it’s as though we failed to deliver on the experience we had built up for ourselves (or perhaps for others) to expect.
In all our planning, and expecting certain results, we can become really thrown off by the unexpected, yet when we allow ourselves to spontaneously follow the flow, we may find ourselves surprised or even delighted!
When I was a kid we went to the circus. I don’t remember much from the other acts, but when the elephant pooped in the ring, my brother and I cracked up, we thought it was the most hilarious thing! To this day, that’s what I remember the most!
The ring-master was flustered, because the delay threw off the timing of the show. The clean-up crew worked as fast as they could, but if you’ve ever seen this spectacle, then you know that the quantity of it takes time to clean up!
Just when the crew finished, the elephant, as if on cue, pooped some more, and peed too. Of course, all us kids in the audience shouted with laughter until our sides hurt. Bathroom humor acted out live in front of us was priceless!
The clowns got in on the action, acting goofy, waving their hands in front of their noses to show it smelled, and of course getting in the way of the clean up crew, which upset the ring-master even more. This went on it seemed for a couple more times, the elephants being led more and more out of the ring to allow the new acts the space to perform.
(I don’t think it was all staged, because the waiting acts seemed to be pretty ticked off at having to wait on the large beasts, and probably a little jealous that the clowns got extra time to, well, clown around!)
An inopportune moment was turned into entertainment for all of us. Somehow this memory stuck with me all through the years, as much as for the funniness of the moment, as well as for how I saw people turn something around to become even better entertainment.
What does it take to do this in our own lives?
A child-like sense of humor? A willingness to let go of a set outcome? An ability to find fun in spontaneity? Letting go of complete control of other people? Flexibility? A sense of adventure?
It’s probably a combination of the above things in various amounts, plus a few other intangible things thrown in for good measure!
“There’s power in looking silly and not caring that you do.” – Amy Poehler
As we get older, it can become harder to wing it, and to go with the flow when things seem to go awry.
Partially it’s because we do get set in our ways, and the rhythm of a schedule can be comforting. It’s also because as we get older, we expect ourselves to become better and better at doing something, so it can almost seem like a personal affront to our skills and abilities when our plans go amiss.
These expectations can become a basis for some pretty negative self talk, leaving us dreading moments when it seems we’re being judged for our poor performance.
“Do what you feel in your heart to be right –
for you’ll be criticized for it anyway.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
As we know, there are haters everywhere! Some people live for finding fault in others… should this paralyze you? Please, no!
We can be our harshest critics, and this dread can suck out the joy, and even prevent us from feeling like wanting to move with the events!
When things go wrong, a smile, a laugh can break the roughness of the moment! Find something that’s working and build on that! Sometimes when things go wrong, it can even lead to something better… not always, but if we’re not open to the flow, we’ll never know!
Remember the elephants! 😉
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