Trying to Find the Bright Side

While we were in San Diego, we celebrated the Fourth of July with my in-laws. We had a wonderful time together. There was a pool party with great food and conversation. When we talked about whether we should take the kids to the local fireworks show, I jokingly said, “I heard the fireworks were canceled. They’re not doing fireworks this year.”

We stayed home and ended up not going to fireworks, but it didn’t have anything to do with them being cancelled. Little did I know what was going to happen in nearby San Diego that very same evening. Apparently, during their firework show, all of the fireworks were mistakenly set off at once. Twenty minutes of fireworks were exploded in 15 seconds.

Imagine being a parent with your kids. You’ve navigated through busy traffic and you’ve decided to let your kids stay up extra late for the fun. Everyone is a little tired after a long day of barbeque and pool parties. Then when the firework show begins, it ends in fifteen seconds. On one hand, this would stink. You’ve gone to all of this effort, only to watch a fifteen second show.

Oh, but what a show! On the bright side, how often do you get to see that many fireworks set off at once. It never happens. It’s a once in a lifetime kind of thing. You can see those boring 20 minute shows anytime, but to see all of those fireworks sent up in fifteen seconds, that’s like. . .Wow!

Overall, we had a great vacation in Southern California, although our departure from San Diego was stressful and absolutely crazy. In our case, the problem wasn’t fireworks, but a burst water main on the road leading to the San Diego Airport. We left for the airport  2 ½ hours early, which should of gotten us to the airport close to two hours before our flight departure.

Instead, we waited in bumper to bumper traffic for well over two hours. Our flight was scheduled to depart at 10:05 PM.  At about 9:40, we were much closer to the terminal, but it started looking like we might miss our flight.

On the bright side, our girls were absolute stars. They were marvelous. Go back one year ago. We left from the San Diego Airport at the end of our vacation and Johanna throws an absolute bender of a tantrum. Emma is crying because her sister is crying. It was an absolutely awful experience, causing me to reflect on whether we should wait until our kids turn eighteen before taking another vacation.

A year later, as a our vacation was about to end, we were a little concerned about the kids and how they might respond, but this time they were totally marvelous. If anything, they got a little anxious because mommy and daddy were a little stressed out.

They asked,“Are we going to miss our flight? What happens if we miss our flight?”

Trying to calm the girls and calm myself, I tried to assure the girls everything would be alright.

“On the bright side, if we miss our flight, the worst thing that can happen is we’ll have to stay over for an extra day or two of vacation.”

In the face of missing our flight, getting an extra couple of days  of vacation seemed pretty awesome. This seemed to help the girls, and it was a good reminder to me to keep my cool.

Jean Chittister, in her book Scarred by Struggle, Transformed by Hope, shares the story of an old Benedictine Godfrey Diekmann who was stuck up to his hips in a swamp. He eventually needed to be pulled out of the swamp by a truck hoist. Later in the year when reflecting on the experience he wrote, “What bothers me is that during the entire ordeal of about twenty-five minutes I didn’t have one pious thought.”

It’s a story that makes me laugh, because it’s often sadly true.

When we finally arrived at the terminal, we only had around fifteen minutes before our flight departure. Running to the Jet Blue ticket counter I expected we would need to reschedule our flight.

Instead, the good people at Jet Blue totally surprised me. They checked us in, held the flight at the gate and got our luggage to the airplane.  In the end, our flight was delayed for twenty minutes because of our family. One Jet Blue employee flagged down a cart to take us to our gate, while another Jet Blue employee chased after us to deliver Emma’s sippy cup (which had been diverted by the TSA). The luggage handlers even made sure our luggage actually got on our plane to Boston (not a foregone conclusion). There is no way the employees of Jet Blue had to do these things.  They could have simply said, “Sorry, it’s too late.” They truly went above and beyond, as a simple act of kindness to our family. It was a crazy experience, filled with countless twists and turns.

I’ve flown Jet Blue for pretty much the entire life of the airline, and I’ve never been so happy about my choice. Yes, I did feel a little embarrassed getting on our plane.  Our flight was just delayed twenty minutes because of us. It’s a red eye flight, and all the passengers on the plane are anxious to leave and get back to Boston. Everyone is looking at you.

“Those are the people who caused our flight to be 20 minutes late.” (*Angry Eyes*)

Angry Eyes

Yes, it was a little embarrassing, but much better than the alternative. We were very thankful to sit in our seats and take a deep breath. In the end, it was a total grace moment. We didn’t deserve it, but we reallly appreciated it.

All of this caused me to reflect on the importance of seeing the bright side. Sometimes it’s hard to notice the bright side. We focus on everything that goes wrong. Our trip to the airport was absolutely nuts. On the brighter side, our girls were wonderful. They really are growing up and are becoming mature little girls. Also while I am sometimes complain about bad service, and about expressing my dissatisfaction, I was blown away by the outstanding people at Jet Blue.  I wish it were possible to personally thank the individuals who helped us through their kindness and compassion.

Last week I wrote a post about negativity, about the cost of negativity and about the possible benefits of being positive. My experience this past weekend, brought this all home. Maybe there is a kind of benefit that I can gain, when I try to see the bright side, and when I focus on new possibilities and opportunities. Looking for the bright side, is being able to find the good in people, in circumstances and in the moment. It’s choosing to hold onto the very best I experience, letting go of those things that frustrate and stress me out.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

I want to remember that God will always be in my corner. He loves and cares for me more than I can ever imagine. Yeah, occasionally I will take a beating and in those moments there might be nothing good about it, nevertheless, it is good to know there is someone who has my back, who will dress my wounds. Sometimes even when I get stuck in a swamp and don’t even remember God, it’s comforting to know He’s still present. There is someone who still gives rainbows after rain storms. There is a bright side.

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