This past summer we had a flood in our house. I remember a year-and-a-half ago when we bought our townhouse, I was happy not to have a basement, because in all of our past homes, basements flood. As usual, the energy and words I put into the universe came right back at me with a nice big flood in our first floor. Almost impossible, but it happened. A reminder never to speak of floods.
It took us months to figure out the source of the problem which meant that we lived with no floor, open walls and an open ceiling for much longer than we would have liked. We couldn’t use our garage because it was filled with our first floor furniture and I lost my treadmill workouts because my treadmill was disassembled in my garage. Our teenage son lost his hang out room.
And I lost my patience, so I decided to set up the television and treadmill while we worked on resolving the problem. And this is when my impatience and ungrateful attitude got seriously checked. I’m standing in the room with the open walls, an open ceiling and tarps everywhere as our cable guy is setting up the television. I tell him “Sorry for this mess of a room. We had a flood and I’m so annoyed that we haven’t been able to put the room back together again because we are waiting for a big rain and I just want my house back!”
To which he replied “I totally understand. My parents had a fire in their house this summer and it’s been a real nightmare with insurance.” “Us too! Please why do we even have insurance?” I ask.
And then there was a silent pause. For some reason, and I don’t know why, call it the Oprah in me, I turned to him and asked “Is your family OK?” It was an unexpected question. He looked a little shocked. And I could see a sadness in his face. “My family is doing OK.” he said “But we lost my dad in the fire.”
Perspective. It always shows up right on time. I could feel my heart burst inside and I quickly stopped caring about our open walls, ceiling and ugly tarps. They were a temporary nuisance that would not change our lives.
"Perspective. It always shows up right on time."
I asked our cable guy, who was now no longer a stranger, his name. He told me his name was Adam. I looked at Adam in his eyes and told him how sorry I was for his loss and how sorry I was for complaining about such unimportant things.
And then he said “We were really lucky. The fire took my dad, but it didn’t take my mother and sister. The gift is their lives.”
OK, now I am fully crying. Having lost my own father a year-and-a-half ago, I have easy access to tears. It would be hard for anyone not to well up when you hear this kind of perspective.
When Adam left, I called my husband to tell him what had happened. I promised myself I would be more present, more grateful and not worry about things that don’t matter. I’m still working on it, but when I fall into bad habits, I think of Adam.
"I promised myself I would be more present, more grateful and not worry about things that don’t matter."
Last month, my husband surprised me on my birthday with a new TV for our bedroom. I was really excited because our old bedroom TV was too small for our new bedroom and watching This is Us is a marriage must. Investing in a bigger bedroom TV is an investment in our marriage, even though it’s just a TV. Perspective.
We scheduled with our cable company to have someone come out and set up the TV and guess who showed up? You got it, Adam!
Six months after hearing a story that had stayed on my heart, I received the gift of being able to follow up with Adam. I was so happy to see him and I deliberately allowed him time to get the TV out of the box before I asked him how his mom and sister were doing. He told me they were doing well and he was too.
Perspective is such a heart opener. I am so grateful for our flood, our big TV and Adam. I look forward to the next time we need a cable guy. My hope is that Adam will be at the door.
Next time you think you may not “know someone from Adam,” ask them their name and how their family is and feel a stranger become important in your life.