When I was interning in Sarasota, FL at the beautiful Florida Studio Theatre, I met some incredible people. None so unique as Doctor Nik, aka Doc, who rode around the theatre and the city on his flamingo bike, rocket bike, and any other crazy kind of bike you could imagine, has two of the sweetest basset hounds I've ever seen, and was an absolute font of silliness, wisdom, and kindness.
Something he posted on facebook a few weeks ago wormed its way into my brain and I've found that it keeps coming back to me over and over again, and it's amazing how much it's changed my perspective on little everyday things in my life that I'd normally stress over or take a negative attitude toward.
Doc says, "A flat tire isn't a bad thing until you make it one."
To me, this is very akin to the line in Hamlet, "There is nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so."
These are basically saying the same thing, yet for some reason Doc's resonates more with me (Well done, Doc, you trumped Shakespeare!). Much to my philisophical husband's chagrin, I tend to be very literal minded, and although my high minded yogic self completely agrees with the sentiment, I always found myself arguing with this line of Shakespeare's - torture is certainly bad! Losing a loved one. Losing a limb! It's the ultimate declaration of the yogic concept of non-attachment, which is one of the hardest ones to wrap your brain around.
As lovely and profound as it is, I can rarely bring myself to totally acquiesce to this line from Hamlet, but for some reason the way Doc phrases it I can completely get on board with. Maybe it's the more specific and mundane event of a flat tire as opposed to the open ended nothing of Shakespeare's line makes it a little more palatable for my nit-picky and argumentative brain.
Regardless of whether you react favorably or not to either quote or the idea that they present, I invite you to try applying the idea to little things in your every day life. Being late. Getting stuck in traffic or on the subway. Catching a cold. Something unexpected and stressful at work. Canceling plans. Unexpectedly small paychecks or large bills. A burnt out lightbulb, a hole in your shirt, an unexpected detour. Take anything that might pop up in your day that you'd normally respond to with complaints and frustration and try to take a moment to see what positive spin you can take on it - even if it's just that adversity builds character!
The more we apply this practice to the everyday, to the mundane, to the things that annoy us but don't upend our lives (the way the Big Stuff does - loss, severe illness, etc.) the more we prepare ourselves for the inevitable days when we will have to cope with the big stuff. You take the time to act instead of react and to look for the positive ways you can either change or surrender to the situation.
My one memory of a literal flat tire was back in Virginia. It wound up keeping me from seeing a show I wanted to see (granted, I had already seen it like 5 times, as I am wont to do), but it gave me a chance to bond with my mom's new-at-the-time boyfriend and to see his generosity of spirit in action. I felt a level of gratitude and affection for him that I don't know if I had yet felt up until that point. I'm sure it was a massive inconvenience to whatever he had going on that day, but he appeared almost instantly and completely took care of me.
It was stressful at first, but wound up being perfectly okay. When I look back on it, I feel it as a positive memory over a negative one, and as one that marked a mini milestone in our relationship - and had I continued to let stress rule the day, who knows if I'd even remember it at all ten years later?
"A flat tire isn't a bad thing until you make it one."
Listen to the Doctor, friends, and make it a beautiful day.