Think back to Thanksgiving for a moment. It's easy to imagine. You've done all your shopping for a great Thanksgiving dinner. You've had lists with you at the grocery store, and you've checked them off, just to be sure you got everything. You've even started prep cooking a day or two in advance. You've made sure that it will all go smoothly. Then, you wake up on Thanksgiving Day and realize you're missing one ingredient you thought you had - pumpkin spice. You can't believe you have to get dressed to go out first thing and take the time on such a busy day to drive all the way to the store for this one little item. How will you get everything done in time? Many of us would feel disappointed in ourselves, for our oversight, and maybe even frustrated or irritated at the extra trip. "I can't believe what an idiot I am! What a waste of time!"
Lisa Quam, a wife and mother in Washington state, had this happen to her this year. I don't know what she was feeling as she made her way to the store, but once there, she decided to also buy a newspaper, and a lottery ticket, something she only does on "special occasions." And if you don't already know the rest of the story, you can probably guess at least the outlines of it by now. Two weeks later, she discovered that she had won 90 million dollars.
When I came across this story the other day, it reminded me of how much time and energy we waste on thoughts and feelings that are unnecessary. We feel disappointed, or irritated, or even angry at a situation that ends up being very different from what we initially supposed, or that has positive consequences we never could have expected. That's why the most practical philosophers have urged us, in every age, never to rush to judgment about what can seem on the surface to be negative situations. A wise person maintains a spirit of calm acceptance in most circumstances, and even a mild curiosity about the unexpected and the initially unwanted.
Who knows when a small inconvenience could be your ticket to something great?