A couple was visiting our area for the first time from out of state and we'd told them all about our favorite western restaurant. So you can imagine our embarrassment when we were still waiting to be seated at 8:10. It got worse.
After finally getting a table, we were ignored for another 20 minutes. Then the drinks our guests requested were unavailable. When their second choices arrived, they rested in plastic tumblers because the dishwasher was behind on glasses. The food took forever. On and on and on.
Thankfully, the conversation was good, helping salve the service that was so bad it had become comical. We joked about how "memorable" their trip to our town would be. Scheduled to drive them to the top of the Beartooth Mountains the next day, I joked that all we needed now was crummy weather to make their visit complete.
I got my wish.
A cold front rolled in overnight, dropping the August temperature into the 50s which could only mean one thing - it would be freezing up on the mountain. Fully packed, with no time to reschedule, we picked them up and headed off anyway.
Sure enough, within 30 minutes we were immersed in the low clouds, dropping visibility to almost zero. Spectacular mountain views are fully dependent on being able to see OFF the mountain. Our hope was that the summit would be higher than the clouds we were driving through and we'd salvage a still-spectacular view.
Parked at the summit 10,947 feet higher than our friends' Florida home, we exited the car and stepped into the 30 degree temperatures. The summit of course, was swallowed by clouds, reducing visibility to ten feet. We walked a bit, condensation forming on us with every step, laughing from the absurdity of taking photos of each other in this soup.
Darn those expectations. We'd wanted to share both the great restaurant and great views with our guests and darn if we weren't disappointed. We wanted things to be one way, yet they'd turned out another. Disappointment is frustrating. Disappointment hurts. And then I remembered a great line.
All pain is created by our insistence that reality be something different than it is.
True enough, we rarely question the expectations we place in our heads and instead, get pompously angry at the universe for having the audacity of not fulfilling them. In essence, we write a poor script and then blame everyone and everything else for not following it. We create all our own mental pain by thoughtlessly writing expectations rather than entering each new situation with an open-mind.
So I relaxed. The day would be what it would be. At least the couple would laugh every time they thought of that 24 hours with the Johnsons. In fact, we were already cracking jokes in that vein on the way down the mountain when the clouds started to clear. We'd packed a picnic lunch and found a perfect table next to a secluded alpine lake. The sun actually came out. Temps climbed back to the 50s. One of our guests spotted a moose on the far bank and spent 15 minutes enraptured, watching it through binoculars.
After leaving the lake, we discovered a roaring creek that made for a magnificent cascade - and great photos as we took turns standing on rocks as nature's power roared around us. Back in the car we went, grinning from the unexpected "bonuses" we'd encountered.
Rounding a corner while scanning for wildlife, I then saw the bonus of bonuses - a black bear just 30 feet off the road munching on raspberries. Pulling over, we were able to watch and photograph the bruin for a good 20 minutes. Our guests were fascinated. The bear sat. He layed. He scratched. He lumbered to another bush. He yawned. All the while licking and gobbling berries, oblivious to our car just 10 yards away.
It made their trip. We were redeemed. Totally unexpected, the universe had provided bonuses that had surpassed our original expectations. And we were left with a powerful lesson.
Expectations are merely our way of trying to redecorate God's world. Trust that his design is far more magnificent than ours.
Mike Johnson is an energetic writer & entrepreneur. Learn more about Mike's offerings at www.MikeJohnson.biz