One of the things you learn as you are going
through the various stages of life is that no matter what you
are involved in, life has a way of throwing obstacles at you.
Just when we start to get comfortable with a person, a place
or a situation, something comes along to change it. A friend
moves away. A child graduates and takes a job in another city or
gets married. Unexpected expenses arise which force you to use
savings that were set aside for a vacation. Or you get laid off
Our ability to cope with change and disruption determines, to
a great degree, our peace, happiness and contentment in life.
But how do we develop this ability to cope with change? How do
we help children learn this skill?
Philosophers have considered this question for centuries.
According to the author of the Book of Ecclesiastes, comfort can
be found in remembering that "to every thing there is a
season, and a time to every purpose under heaven." A friend
of mine once stated that in order to work for the government,
"survivability depends upon adaptability". I recently
watched a show on television where a California surfer summed up
the answer to lifeís problems in four simple words: "Go
with the flow."
The Californian explained, "Itís like surfing. You
canít organize the ocean. Waves just happen. You ride them
where they take you, then you paddle back out there and catch
the next one. Sure, youíre always hoping for the perfect wave,
but mostly you just take them the way they come."
Perhaps the surfer has the answer we have been looking
Life is nothing more than a series of events - both good and
bad. No matter how good your organizational skills or how well
you have planned for all eventualities, there will always be
life-influencing factors over which you have no control. The
truly successful person expects the unexpected, and is prepared
to make adjustments should the need arise, as it almost always
That doesnít mean you donít keep trying to make your
plans and dreams come true. It just means that when things
donít go according to plan, you just work around them and then
move on. As the surfer said, "You ride them where they take
you, then you paddle back out there and catch the next
What we must all realize is that some obstacles are easier to
take than others. Missing a baseball game because of rain is
easier to take than the sudden death of a family member. But the
principle is the same. "You ride the wave where it takes
you, then you paddle back out there and catch the next wave,
always searching for the perfect ride." In other words, you
work around the obstacle the best you can and then you move on
with your life.
People have often commented on my ability to remain calm
under difficult circumstances. I merely tell them that the
secret is to keep your planning to a minimum. If I have to get
to Sudbury, I will plan on taking the shortest route along Hwy
69N. But, if for some reason I am forced to take a detour
through Garson or Rayside-Balfour, I have learned to simply
enjoy the ride. I will eventually get to Sudbury. It may take a
little longer, and the road may be a little bumpier, but I will
get there. I have also learned over the years that usually when
I am forced to take a detour, I encounter some very worthwhile
life-experiences along the way that I would have missed had it
not been for taking the detour. As weird as it sounds, I
actually look forward to the unexpected. Itís like opening a
Christmas present - you never know what you are going to find.
So, as a parent, one of the most important things you can
teach your children is to not fear change, but to cope
with it by enjoying the ride and then moving on with life. Go
with the flow!
Until the next time...