I just spent a tremendous week at Way of a (Spiritual) Warrior, a deepening of the tools I learned at the More To Life weekend in Houston last November. While much of the week's actual material is covered under a confidentiality clause, and it would be lacking in integrity to reveal what other people shared about their lives and discoveries, my breakthroughs alone could give me material to write on for weeks.
My first challenge turned out to be bigger than I expected. When I arrived at the airport, I had a few hours before the charter bus to the conference center was set to depart. I had a leisurely lunch, enjoyed people watching, and eventually made my way to the place where the bus would be waiting. I had printed out the instructions, which included the location to meet the bus, the name of the bus company, and a detailed description of how the bus would look. I was calm, confident, and eager to meet my fellow warriors.
Imagine my surprise when the location described on my printed page didn't actually exist. I went to the closest place I could find, and noticed that some construction was going on, so I followed some other people around to rows of buses for hotels and rental car agencies. That didn't seem like the right place, so I went back and started asking airport personnel. I learned about a new likely location for the charter bus, set off in that direction, and I was fine. A little frustrated, but willing to let it go.
Until I was unable to locate the bus at the new spot. Then, my frustration returned with a vengeance. I asked no less than six people with official looking uniforms and name badges and received the same three potential places, and at none of those places was there a bus that looked like the description I had. At one point I looked at my cell phone for the time and realized that the bus had been scheduled to depart 15 minutes ago. I thought: There's very little chance it's even still here for me to find. I decided to rent a car and drive there myself, even though this was an expense for which I really hadn't planned.
I was angry, frustrated, driven, and tense. I was believing that I should have been able to find the bus, that the directions were wrong, that the person who had written them was incompetent, and that I would have done a better job. I was believing not only that they were stupid, but that I was stupid and incompetent as well. I felt very disconnected from the enthusiasm I had been feeling less than an hour prior to that moment. I tried to hide all of that from the car rental agent. After all, it wasn't her fault. I told her what I needed, and she asked if I had my return flight information, documentation she needed to rent a car to me. I hadn't printed that out, so she suggested I go to the airline desk and get a copy of that.
Although I was polite to her, I was seething on the inside. One more obstacle in my path, I thought. And then I received a call on my cell phone. Another passenger from the bus had made a sign and was waiting for me by the information desk. They hadn't left. I found her and, still angry and frustrated, I followed her to the location of the bus, which I had passed at least twice. The bus didn't look anything like the description, there was no company name painted on the side, and there was no sign or indication that it was going where I wanted to go. But the driver had been there with the door open both times I walked past.
I held on to my anger, frustration, and judgment about the bus for at least a day, disengaging and remaining less than fully connected as the week began. But eventually I came to terms with the truth. The bus wasn't where I expected it to be. The bus didn't look like what I expected. I had inaccurate information. I was worth enough to them that they not only waited for me, but even sought me out. My anger and drivenness had focused my perception to such an impractical point that I was unwilling to explore possibilities outside my expectations. I could have asked the driver where he was going either of the times I had passed the bus, but I was convinced that it would have been a waste of time.
I don't know what would have happened if I had remained calm, open to alternatives, and connected with what was around me. It's possible that it would have played out in exactly the same way. But I know that I am more the person I want to be when I don't give my frustration and anger and drivenness the upper hand.