Don't Sweat!

The other day, I went over to Sadako's place; the ostensible reason was to spend a few hours working on the translation of one of the chapters in the 'My Solitudes' book, but she usually suggests that I come a bit early and she prepares a nice lunch for the two of us. As you may guess, this is much appreciated on my part; even though the supermarkets and convenience stores are preparing much better food these days than they used to, nothing compares with home cooking!

Because she goes to such effort, I of course try and make sure I arrive on time. I usually take the bus to a nearby station, then take the train to her town. Japanese transportation works to very strict schedules, so it is never a problem; I have learned the proper time to leave the house in order to catch the correct bus. The other day though, just as I was in the genkan getting my shoes on, the doorbell rang. It was the local parcel delivery man, and as the package he was delivering was a COD, and thus needed more than a simple signature, I ended up being behind schedule. A few minutes later, as I walked along the street toward the bus stop, I realized that I was going to miss it, and thus be late for lunch. My reaction? "Well, it can't be helped; I'll have to explain to Sadako what happened, and I'm sure she'll understand," and I continued cheerfully along the way.

Now had this been happening many years ago, say when I was a young teenager, I know my reaction would have been different. "Damn it! That driver has really screwed me around! Now the whole afternoon is going to get messed up! Damn it!" (Or perhaps - because I was a silly teenager - I might have said something worse than 'damn' ...)

But somewhere along the line, I had a bit of a change of character. I don't remember at all what set it off, but I started playing a kind of game with myself whenever such incidents came along. Instead of losing my temper about the problem, I would just shrug it off, and would think to myself "OK, I'll be a 'good boy' here. I won't get angry. Instead, I'll be 'nice', and if I do that, I'll probably get some kind of 'reward'."

Now this certainly sounds kind of silly. Nobody's 'watching', and unlike what some children may believe - be a good boy and Santa Claus will come! - life just doesn't work that way. But do you know, once you start playing such a game with yourself, you soon find plenty of occasions where it works! And so it was the other day.

I was about half-way to the bus stop when a car pulled up beside me - my neighbour Yamaguchi-san and his wife. They were heading out shopping, and their destination was a department store located right in front of the local train station. It was obvious to him that I was headed for the bus stop, so he rolled down his window and told me to jump in. I did, and we arrived at the station well in advance of the bus that I had missed. I even had time to go down to the food floor and pick up a little something to take with me ...

Coincidence? Well, objectively speaking, I suppose it was. But do you know, this seems to happen again and again. As long as I remember not to get upset about things that happen, they seem to get 'fixed' in short order.

No granola on the shelf because I forgot to order it soon enough? Just shrug my shoulders, look around for something else ... What's this? Another package hidden away at the back of the cupboard!

I make a careless mistake cutting a piece of mat board for one of my prints; it doesn't fit. Ah well, it can't be helped ... no point in getting upset. Just a minute, if I turn it this way instead of that, I can still make it work!

I tell you, this happens every day.

I think this kind of attitude has been well studied and described. I might regret not learning about it much earlier in life, but at least I've got it down pat now.

"Don't sweat the small stuff!"


 


Comments on this story ...


Add Your Comment ...



Remember Me? (with a cookie ...)

(you may use HTML tags for style)