This morning, I was reading a newsletter sent by my friend Kurt Koontz. In it he was described his latest adventures in the Big Apple. He had taken a few forays to the 9/11 memorial and was deeply moved by what he saw there. Although I have not seen, I imagine that it brings with it a plethora of emotions. He was speaking about the importance of daily gratitude for our blessings and the ways in which our lives are changed when we focus on what are thankful for, rather than what we are cranky about. He referenced things such as getting cut off in traffic or an electronic device malfunctioning.

As I was writing to respond to the email, guess what happened?  On a bright and sunny day, the power suddenly zapped off. Now, I would have expected it yesterday, since a whole bunch of storms blew through, with a hurricane watch in effect for many hours. I laughed, of course and then decided to fold clothes and go to the gym. Before leaving, I called the electric company and was told that there was some kind of disconnect under ground and they should have it repaired quickly. Within 30 minutes, the lights and radio went back on and the clocks on the stove and microwave began blinking. I attempted to go back on line, only to discover that the internet was down. I called Comcast and was told that there was limited coverage in the area for a time. Sighing and surrendering, I headed out to sweat.

Lately, I have been facing the reality that life is about surrender. There is more that I don’t have control over than that I do. It could be disheartening or encouraging to recognize this paradigm. I choose the latter since I wonder what good it would do to be in a consistent state of discouragement. The Serenity Prayer is my go-to when I am tempted to feel pissy and pouty over plans gone awry or people not acting in ways that I would like for them to.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”-Reinhold Niebuhr

I am acutely aware that what happened this morning was a ‘first world problem’. That I have electricity and internet is remarkable when I consider how many people don’t have the basic necessities of life. I also was certain that the service would go back on and that there were other things I could do in the meantime that would be far more productive that grumbling about it.

What came to me right away was how synergistically perfect it was in the light of what Kurt had written. Stuff like that happens in my life all the time.

I also remembered a beautiful story written by Robert Fulghum about learning the difference between a problem and an inconvenience. He tells it in his book called Uh Oh. One of the lines that remains with me is this: “Life is lumpy. A lump in the oatmeal, a lump in the throat and a lump in the breast are not the same thing.” These days, I have far fewer problems and occasional inconveniences. I can live with them.

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