Our lease is ending where we've been staying and cannot be renewed. Our damaged home, which the contractor has been saying for MONTHS will be "surely done by the end of this month", is far from ready for occupation. I arranged for another short-term rental but now our insurance company says they are betting that it will be done in the next 4 weeks and wants us in a motel for the duration. I wouldn't bet on it being done by then, given the track record. But I might be wrong. But it is what it is and I've been packing boxes which will be all put in storage for however much longer the work takes and packing suitcases to live out of for the next month. Tomorrow we hand the keys back to the landlord.
L. asked me how I avoid feeling frustrated and annoyed by the continual promises of work being done that is not yet done and will likely be delayed. I've thought about that. I think it's due to three things.
First it has to do with being consciously grateful. For a job, for a place to stay, for a table to sit at, a bed to sleep in, enough food to eat, for construction workers with skills, for a book to read. Gratitude refocuses my view to include not only the challenges but also the blessings. That fosters peace within me.
Second, it has to do with the old scout adage "be prepared". I realize that I tend to almost always prepare contingency plans. I tend to think about what I will do if such and such happens, or what we should do if things don't happen as planned. And then I lay the groundwork for that as I continue to work towards what I hope will happen. It isn't a negative expression of distrust or pessimism. It's just that I know life and work doesn't always come together the way we want it too, and it's good to have prepared, in your back pocket, a constructive response to that when it happens. Because in spite of everyone's best efforts, sometimes you need that helpful contingency plan. Sometimes you need a whole string of them. It's just part of life.
Third, it has to do with keeping the current challenge in perspective. That's related to gratitude, but it has more to do with priorities and brotherhood. My hope for my house to be made habitable is real and good, but in the prioritized list of hopes I see in the lives of people around me it is not way up on the list. I am aware of the very real other hopes that are being addressed in my community, hopes for healing from injury and illness, hopes for reuniting of hearts in families, hope for help for those dealing with abuse, hope for help cleaning and rebuilding after the recent tornadoes, hope for shelter and hope and light, hope for young people just starting out in life, hope for people dealing with the challenges that come as one approaches the end of it, the list goes on and on. This awareness does two things. It makes me put my own current need in perspective. And it gets me to work on helping others and their hopes and needs while I wait for mine to be fulfilled, which in turn reduces my focus on and impatience about my own situation.
I think these three things are things I heard about doing when I was young. It's kind of interesting to me to realize that as an old person, they've become just another part of how I approach life. I guess teaching young people good things that they only understand in theory when they are young can bring about good change down the road. For those teachers and relatives who taught me, I am grateful.