I hardly ever let Jack choose the route when we take a trip. My history with Jack and trips is that he inevitably chooses the longest route possible. He likes to take roads that get you to your destination eventually. I generally choose the shortest distance between 2 points. The other night I was tired and for some reason, I let him pick the route. About half-way home (one and a half hours into a normally two-hour and fifteen minute trip) I began to feel an old familiar feeling toward him: irritation.
We stopped at a gas station and while he was inside buying water, I let my head flop onto the steering wheel and sighed “I am dreading this trip home.” But the thought that immediately followed was, “Why? Why are you doing anything in the spirit of dread?” I didn’t have a good answer except that it was a habit to feel annoyed when things didn’t unfold in the way that I would have planned them or done them. The next question that I asked myself was, “Can you look forward to the rest of this trip?” As I pondered this question, I can’t say that I suddenly felt happy anticipation, but my irritation eased up and surprisingly, I felt less tired. So I then said, “We will get home at the perfect time” and I felt happier.
Within 3 minutes Jack was back at the car handing me a treat that he’d picked out, and I was feeling good. I never said a word to him about this, so he’ll be surprised when he reads it tonight.
Dreading anything is a dreadful thing to do to ourselves. What is dread, really? It is fear. Fear that things won’t go the way we want them to go. Fear that our plan (which of course we think is the best plan) won’t be realized, or we’ll be harmed in some way. But as I sat in my car dreading the rest of that trip, I was the one hurting myself. It wasn’t getting home later than I’d hoped that caused me pain, it was my thought that it was somehow wrong.
No matter what we are going through, we all have the ability to embrace it. It might sound insane to say, “I am looking forward to a colonoscopy” or “I am looking forward to being unemployed” or saying that we look forward any other thing that society tells us we should dread. But why? Why do it? Why dread things that we are expected to dread? If you watch very young children, you’ll notice that they have a natural curiosity about everything. They look at life as though it is an in-the-moment adventure. Could we do that too? Could we look forward to everything that life presents and refuse to call anything (that we need to do, or that has been handed to us) bad or wrong?
At the very least, it is fun to try. So, take something, anything, right now, that you are dreading and begin to say, “I am looking forward to it”, and watch what happens….allow yourself to be like a little child; full of wonder and full of trust.