Our family wanted to explore Jackson, Wyoming so we'd cut through Yellowstone National Park on a beautiful November day to get there. Although we had the park all to ourselves, the entrances would be closing for the season at 9 p.m. that night. Since Jackson was only 180 miles from home, we figured we could easily make the trip and return that day.
The time gained by starting early was soon eaten away by many stops along the way. It's impossible to drive through Yellowstone without stopping to look at buffalo, elk or Yellowstone Lake framed by spectacular mountain vistas. A cooler of picnic food gave yet another reason to pull over and enjoy the day.
We hit Jackson about 2 p.m. and drove directly to the Snow King Ski Resort hoping the chairlifts would be running in the summer as they had when I last visited the town when I was 10 years old. No dice. But we did get some good photos of our family sitting on a silent chair lift to send my dad to compare to ones he'd taken of our family on that same ski lift in 1967.
After a couple hours of exploring Jackson, I finally did the math and realized we'd be spending a good part of our return drive in the dark - something I didn't relish because the car's headlights were out of alignment reducing their range. After a hurried stop viewing the 1,000 elk at the Jackson Elk Preserve, we departed for home.
Within an hour we were driving in the moonless dark - and remembering that each "Yellowstone mile" was like two real miles due to the curvy roads, steep altitudes and reduced speed limits. Then we began worrying about another peril - wildlife in the road.
Even at a 35 mph speed limit, the headlights were not giving me enough visibility to relax while driving. The wife was assigned to watch her side of the road for deer while I favored the left side and the roadway ahead. The kids soon fell asleep in the back.
By all appearances, circumstances seemed to have turned an enchanting day into an endangered one. But in reality, it was merely the universe doing its work looking out for our greater good.
The illusion of adversity is easy to embrace. One moment life seems fine and the next circumstances change in such a sudden way you find everything you value at risk of loss. It's easy to blame the new circumstances as the cause of your problem - forgetting it was actually YOUR actions and decisions that made the uncomfortable situation come about.
The universe is on our side - something I remembered on that long drive home. It had been subtly nudging me to an earlier departure all day. As I reflected, I realized we'd seen less wildlife than normal, creating fewer stops. The chair lift being closed saved us at least another hour. And the lower speed limits prevented us from hitting at least four deer on the way home.
The universe didn't create that adversity - I had with my poor planning. Once again, the illusion of adversity was stripped away to reveal the truth. And I remembered that truth as I pulled the car safely into our driveway that night.
The universe works.
Mike Johnson is an energetic writer & entrepreneur. Learn more about Mike's offerings at www.MikeJohnson.biz