Smile It Away

“A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.”

Phyllis Diller

“Be thou the rainbow in the storms of life. The evening beam that smiles the clouds away, and tints tomorrow with prophetic ray.”

Lord Byron

I knew the day wasn’t going to be easy when at around 6 am I was unable to check-in and board my flight because I had missed the check-in window by mere minutes. Actually, I knew it wasn’t going to be my day when I spilled coffee on my notebook and new book I was reading (and loving no less). Scratch that. The night before I had a feeling it was going to be a bumpy ride when my weeks worth of luggage wasn’t fitting and was getting the zipper caught. (Probably because I was trying to lug my entire bulletproof coffee kit — kettle, butter and all — on a flight across the world to Thailand)

Regardless, sitting there in the airport, coffee stains all over me, waiting for the next flight, I had a feeling today wasn’t going to be my day. And oh what a day it was. Flight cancellation in New York. My small-town bank froze me out of my account. And when I finally arrived in Beijing, as I was wandering the airport at Lord knows what time or how long this godforsaken day has been, as I was wondering the empty airport, my belt broke.

Even my belt broke. And you know what I did?

Hold that thought.

When things don’t go our way, our usual reaction is to brute force it.

Brute force essential means trying to accomplish something with pure strength without any strategy or tactics behind it. It’s pure muscle power.

Okay, maybe you aren’t holding your pants up with one hand while pushing your luggage around a foreign airport like I was four years ago. Nevertheless, there are many occasions where brute force seems like a good idea.

Maybe something breaks at work and you spend hours and hours gritting your teeth and trying to push a square peg into that round hole.

Or maybe you have kids and for no reason at all they have decided to completely meltdown today and refuse to do anything you say.

Or maybe a bird craps on your favorite shirt, or the parking authority gives you a ticket or your fun gets rained out or you trip on a broken sidewalk or you choke in front of an audience or you fail completely today.

There’s only two choices we make:

  1. We can give into the friction and wallow away the entire day. Or —
  2. We can ground ourselves in the insignificance of a little moment of failure and bad luck, and smile it away.

Because time is short and every second wasted adds up.

Because anger’s half-life is short* and nothing is permanent except change.

Because life is bigger than us.

And because one day in the future, if we’re lucky, we’ll be laughing it off and telling the story as if the memory was an old friend.

You know what I did as I was standing in an airport, holding my pants up?

I laughed. I smiled it away. I realized how silly and unlikely this story sounded. And I took a deep breath and went on to enjoy my week in Thailand with some friends.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #856

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