In mid 2008 I had signed-up for a three month intensive voluntary program to work on a nature reserve in the USA, building flood barriers, planting trees, maintaining footpaths and such like. All my paperwork had been arranged and it was simply a case of waiting to get paid from my job then hopping on a plane and getting myself there.
However, I never received those owed wages, for reasons I won’t go into here. Without those funds, I couldn’t afford the trip, so I had no choice but to cancel. To say that I was gutted would be a mighty understatement.
However, I’d just started learning about Zen at this point and chose to put its philosophy into practice for the very first time with this heart breaking turn of events. I decided to trust life and to just go with the flow.
The next day I met a wonderful woman online and we just instantly clicked. She lived in Lincoln, which is about a three hour train ride from Birmingham (England), so meeting up wasn’t too demanding on our schedules or bank balances. Within a month, we were working so well, I decided to move to Lincoln for us to live nearer each other, after falling in love with her and the beautiful little city.
After almost four years together, we sadly didn’t work out but I decided to stay in Lincoln and not return back to the Birmingham area. The people and the city of Lincoln had completely stolen my heart.
If I’d have gone to that USA nature reserve as planned, we wouldn’t have met online and I would have never have moved to Lincoln.
I would then not have had the vast amount of fantastic experiences that came as a result of that romance and move. I wouldn’t have then developed friendships with so many intelligent, fun, interesting & kind hearted people. I wouldn’t have then had the honour of working with the incredible students of Lincoln College as their senior Youth Worker. I wouldn’t have then learned how to make great coffee at a wonderful patisserie with a team of amazing people. I wouldn’t have then experienced subsequent romantic adventures with a few of the resplendent women of Lincoln. I wouldn’t have then lived and socialised with some of the nicest people I’d ever met in a large house-share near the Cathedral.
So much good and countless smiles manifested as a direct result of that failed USA trip, so-much-so, my mind no longer classes my not going as a ‘failure’.
Sometimes, when life slams a door of opportunity shut in our face, it is said that it’s because it lead to a path that wasn’t meant for us. That when life closes that door; it always opens a window. To keep practicing at trusting life, as it’s one of the most beneficial gifts we could give to our own mental health, as it reduces so much stress & anxiety.
Whenever something doesn’t go my way now, I always remind myself of my unplanned but successful adventure to Lincoln and how it was born out of an experience of tragedy.
I now always look out for that window when a hopeful door slams shut in my disappointed face. Those unexpected life twists have a way of being far more exciting & rewarding.