We may never know what we were spared

This morning, I was on yet another flight. We were in our final approach, landing in rain and fog, only a few hundred feet from touching down, when suddenly gravity nailed me to my seat. We were unexpectedly speeding up and gaining altitude. Wrong direction, people! As I saw the runway distance itself, many people groaned. We were already 45 minutes late due to the crummy weather and many people were stressing about their connections. There were 50 people trying to make international connections alone, including my two neighbors. “Dude, we’re going to miss our flight! What is the deal here!!!!”

As the passengers huffed and puffed and groaned our way through the next seven or so minutes, I started thinking: We have no idea what we were spared. All we’re seeing is that we’re late and risk missing connections. We’re stuck in this story of being victims of this situation. And yet, maybe, just maybe, this may be the much better outcome. OK, maybe the pilot’s a rookie and his inexperience is costing us additional 25 minutes delay. And maybe, there was a plane on the runway that the pilot saw at the last minute through the fog. Let’s be honest, I prefer an additional 25-minute delay – and even a missed connection – than landing on top of another plane and dying in a pile of twisted explosive metal. 😉

How many times in our lives do we label an event as “bad” and later find out it was “for the better”? We can get all worked up about a “failed” presentation, an “idiotically slow” cashier, heck even a “terrifying” president-elect. And the fact is that, most of the time, we have no idea what “bad” we were spared and what “good” may come of it.

As my neighbors and I discussed this, the pilot came onto the PA system: “Apologies for that aborted landing. There was a plane crossing our runway.” Wow!!!!! Yes, pile of twisted metal averted. Thank you Mr. Pilot for your sight and quick reflects.

So, this time, we did find out that our aborted landing spared us a possibly catastrophic situation. It becomes easier to entertain the thought that, among the many times “bad” things happen, I may well have been spared something worse. Living from that reality feels a lot more peaceful and pleasurable. Plus, it invites me to explore what good is coming out of any experience.

The next time, I get all huffy and puffy about an impatient driver, an unexpected circumstance or any negative outcome, I’ll simply visualize a pile of twisted metal on the runway. I may never find out what I was spared, but I can trust I averted something.

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