by Stephen Doherty
“Disappointments are just God’s way of saying ‘I’ve got something better’.
Be patient, live life, have faith.” -Eric Hoffer
For the last year, I have been planning and anticipating with great excitement a 3,000 mile motorcycle journey from Denver to Lake Louise, next to Banff-Canada outside of Calgary. To me, being on a motorcycle anywhere is ecstasy-but cruising through the Rocky Mountains, Yellowstone, and Montana’s Glacier National Park, was going to be Heaven on earth. Throw in my three riding amigos that I’ve known for fifty years, and we had the makings of something epic and gloriously memorable. This was a top-three bucket list adventure that I couldn’t wait to experience and scratch off my list. As the trip grew near, sleep and work became difficult as my inner-child began banging metal pans together!
Two weeks ago, two days before this epic journey was to commence-complications from skin cancer surgery on my ear, disqualified me from my much-anticipated adventure. Without getting into the gory details-suffice it to say that there was no way the sutures and necessary healing would tolerate two-weeks under my motorcycle helmet. I bid my trio of Traveling Wilburys adieu, and prayed for their safe return atop details of new stories and great photos. I knew I would be on their minds, as they would mine, during the next ten days. The fact that I was sidelined did not diminish my excitement for my friends-my brothers.
Life rarely unfolds as expected and a huge lesson I’ve tried to teach my kids is to take that reality in stride and always have a Plan B. I’ve learned that it’s nearly impossible to feel disappointment and gratitude at the same time and my life, for all its faults and disruptions, is still unfolding and exceeding my expectations. I had ten-days off work that I quickly put to good use with alternative pastimes that didn’t require a helmet. My daughter just took up golf and we hit the links together, celebrating her love affair with this new sport while marveling at my own ongoing futility with woods and irons. I got to spend quality time visiting and strategizing with my son who is evolving from a college student into the work force. I was able to unwind and relax as ten-days of vacation gently seeped into my consciousness and allowed me ample meditative opportunities with unread books and music as my companions. Few things are more enjoyable than unencumbered time to “be in the moment” with your thoughts-your family-and a deep sense of gratitude and appreciation for the privilege of the “time” to enjoy it all. It was a good Plan B.
Eliza Tabor once said that “disappointment to a noble soul is what cold water is to burning metal; it strengthens, tempers, intensifies, but never destroys it.” I have long believed that any day that includes a sunrise, a good cup of coffee, and ample love and friendship is a joyous occasion worth celebrating. It is precisely that reality that quickly transformed my lost Canadian motorcycle adventure into a week of spiritual joy and alternative adventures. Oh, and with some of my precious vacation time? I have already mapped out a new motorcycle trip for next year which exceeds the grand parameters of this year’s lost opportunity. Why? Because a life lived without achievable dreams ceases to be life and becomes only existence. If my life has been anything-it has been a steadfast refusal to merely exist. Life requires..no, demands a Plan B!
“If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment.” –Henry David Thoreau