Today was one of these days. It wasn’t actually a bad day. I had a great time playing some Mario Kart with my daughters; we ate good, home-cooked meals; and we moved ahead on some Holiday projects. However, as seems to be par for the course for me, I didn’t get to do everything I wanted to.
This morning I realized that today would be the best day for me to run errands and go grocery shopping before New Year’s Eve. I planned to go after lunch so I would have plenty of time when I got back for music, more play, and maybe even to write my post for today. The thing was, there was a series of “one more things” which, one by one, delayed my departure until I was finally able to leave the house at 4:30, barely still the afternoon. When I was driving home almost two hours later, it struck me that I was remarkably calm about how late it was. I knew at that point that I wouldn’t be able to do much when I got back besides put away the groceries before making and eating dinner. Previously, when I would be delayed leaving the house and then not be able to do what I had planned, I would have been in a foul, foul mood. Today, however, I felt content and I wanted to figure out why.
I came to the conclusion that there were two reasons: First, when I was honest with myself, I knew that I chose to do all the things which delayed my departure because they were important to me. I didn’t regret doing anything I did before leaving to run my errands, so I knew it was conscious and well-made choices which resulted in my “lack of time” at the end of the day, so there was no reason to be upset. I was merely a victim of being a human being, bound by linear time which limits my day to 24 hours.
Second, whatever my choices, when I allow myself to regret and become stressed about the consequences, I drag the past into the present and that poisons my experience of the here and now. That doesn’t mean that I avoid reviewing my choices. What it does mean, however, is that I try to be honest and objective about my choices and to understand that the past is the past. I can learn from it, but I cannot change it, and I will live with the consequences more peacefully if I can let go of any “should haves” which keep me emotionally tied to the past.
Shopping is not one of my favorite activities, but by letting go of my expectations of the day and accepting my choices, today’s shopping trip was much more tolerable than it could have been. I am grateful for the experience, and the confirmation that practicing acceptance is increasing the quality of my life.