Within the first couple hours of our road trip to Colorado earlier this month, we lost a wallet. Not fun, right? Here's what happened. We stopped at a convenience store just over an hour away from home to grab some soda and juice. My sweetheart started to give me his wallet to pay, and I said, no - it's ok - I have mine.
We kept driving. To Alexandria, Louisiana. Now about four and a half hours from home. And we got to the hotel, and my sweetheart said, "Honey, what did you do with my wallet?" Oh. No. My stomach dropped. Had he handed me his wallet while he went to the bathroom? What did I do with it? Did I leave it on the counter? We searched high and low. In every possible nook and cranny in the car. We didn't find it. It was 10 p.m.
Ok, so I asked myself, what's perfect about this? (Very hard in a situation like this, believe me.) I always start with, "We're ok." Then, "There wasn't that much money in it.", Then, "Only one credit card to cancel." We got on the phone and took care of that.
Then there was the matter of the driver's license. And here the angels intervened. 1. We were still in Louisiana. 2. We had internet and a laptop to easily search for Motor Vehicle offices. 3. The office in Alexandria was literally less than a five-minute drive from our hotel! Can't you hear the angelic choirs singing??
We went there the next day, first thing. And there wasn't much of a wait. (Go, angels!) And they renewed my sweetheart's license so he won't have to wait in line in a couple of months in New Orleans. And then it was done and we were on our way.
"Ok", you say. "I get it. Angels intervened. But what about the power of story? Why is that in the title?" Well, a couple of reasons. We could have used a lot of energy telling a really different story about this. About how awful it was. About how we couldn't believe that no one had turned in the wallet (we did call the convenience store - amazing that we were able to remember which one and find its number online!) About all the money we'd lost. About the hassle of changing online accounts to new credit card numbers. About how stupid I was for leaving the wallet on the counter, or wherever I'd left it. We could have seen it as a "bad omen" for our whole trip.
But we didn't. We had a fantastic trip. We didn't even think about it much except that my sweetie had to ask me for my credit card when we'd stop for gas.
And then we came home. And you will never guess what was on my sweetheart's desk. Did you guess? You're right! His wallet. Because he'd never brought it in the first place. He'd only offered to pay. He had never actually handed me his wallet! We'd completely fabricated that part of the story!
And here's where the angels actually intervened. What if we had realized we didn't have the wallet at the convenience store- one hour away from home? We would have probably driven back to get it, which would have taken more than twice as long as what we ended up doing. And it would have been a very un-fun two hours. In traffic.
I make up stories all the time - I create motives, fabricate background information, and selectively remember facts. And I just finished a book, a rather dark book, but an incredible story that illustrates this so well. It's called The Sense of An Ending, by Julian Barnes. It's a short, engaging novel that so clearly illustrates the power of story to affect real lives. You'll think you know what's happening right up until the end - I won't spoil it.
So, what stories are you telling yourself these days about the circumstances around you? Do you have a good example of how you turned around what seemed like crummy circumstances into a better story? Are you noticing the intervention of angels/the universe/luck, or whatever you want to call it, in your life? I'd love to hear! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or share your story in the comments below.