It never ceases to amaze me how messages are delivered to me. My latest message from up above is about letting go. Let me tell you a story.
I’m a planner. I plan everything in my life, and I tend to always try to be right on time for things, so as to not waste my precious minutes. I love planning because it makes me feel in control of my own life. I generally take pride in the fact that I use my time very efficiently, except when my plans don’t work out of course. More often than not, God has been kind to me; most of my plans work out. Sometimes, I try to squeeze too much out of my minutes, and ended up losing all of them.
In December last year, I was planning an ambitious three-day BKK-SIN-HKG weekend. It was one hell of a trip that started before I even boarded my first flight. Just the week before this trip, I stumbled upon an interview of my new friend Kevin Miller, who’s currently traveling around the world learning and doing new things. In the interview, he said this:
How would you sum up your experience thus far, traveling the world, and being an entrepreneur?
Fear holds everyone back if they let it. Trust the process, we only control maybe 50% of the game. Trust.
I paused at “we only control maybe 50% of the game.” As a planner that plans for 100%, it’s a truth I don’t like to admit. But I never imagine this sentence being hammered into my mind in such a sudden and dramatic way. Here’s a (not so) brief recap of the more stressful–or exciting, depending on how you look at it–incidents that happened over that fateful December weekend.
Let’s push that “check-in counter closes 30 minutes before departure” limit
I decided that since I am only bringing a carry-on, I can get to the airport just 45 minutes beforehand. I added a 15-minute cushion in there, so I planned to be there 60 minutes before. Guess what. I waited for the elevator for 5 minutes longer than I thought. I waited for the taxi to the train station 15 minutes longer than I thought. AND I waited for the train to the airport 10 minutes longer than I thought. I literally dashed out of the train to the check-in counter after I arrived. I ended up at the check-in desk 25 minutes before my flight. I was already marked as a no-show. That was a first for me. Thankfully, the agent made some calls and was able to help undo the no-show for me.
So I made it on the plane. Phew. I had a full night of activities planned in Singapore, and I was relieved that was staying intact, or so I thought. One of the runways at BKK was not in operation. We were delayed for about half an hour taking off. Then, at SIN, there was terrible weather that led to heavy traffic. My plane was ordered to hold position and fly around in circles for 30 minutes–another first for me! I lost a total of one hour, which disrupted my plans.
Absent Mind = Absent Possessions, Round 1
– On my flight from Singapore to Hong Kong, I left my phone charger on the plane, which meant I was potentially going to be phoneless in Hong Kong. I freaked out because I was planning two days of hiking in far away places and really could use the navigational assistance. Fortunately, the hotels I were staying at had chargers for me to borrow. AND I managed to get my phone charger back from the wonderful Singapore Airlines. Again, not much harm done here.
Out of time… Ahhh! Round 1
Hong Kong was where things got insanely stressful. I spent two nights there, but at different hotels to take full advantage of my hotel points. The first day I went hiking, I was supposed to be back in time before my 1pm checkout time. Of course, I spent longer than I thought on the hike, and I neglected to account for the longer travel time on the way back than on my journey there. The hotel was very full that day and sounded really firm that they couldn’t extend the check-out, and I was worried that they would charge me for being late. I arrived at the hotel a good 1 hour and 5 minutes after I planned to. I had to get my key card reprogrammed as it already expired, and hurried to my room to pack and leave.
Out of time… Ahhh! Round 2
The second day in Hong Kong was another pleasant hike along a place called Clearwater Bay. This time my friend and I finished the hike on-time, but what we didn’t anticipate was the fact that there was going to be a HUGE tour group there at the end as well that wanted to take the same bus back as I did to make the connection to the train. The bus came every 30 minutes. I missed the first two. Fortunately, when I reached the train station and sprinted into the station, I made the first train right before the door was about to close. Time salvaged. I made it back to the hotel at 4.30pm (I was supposed to check out at 4pm), had to reprogram my keycard AGAIN. And no issues again as well. How lucky can I get.
Let’s push the “gate closes 10 minutes before departure” this time
Now, it was around 4.45pm. My flight was at 7.20pm. The train to the airport takes 25 minutes. I should just head to the airport at this time, right? Oh, noooo. I don’t do that. I would be waiting for too long at the airport. I went to meet up with an old friend to catch up. I decided to leave for the airport at 5.45pm. Plenty of time, right? Well, the security line was 15 minutes long, and immigration was another 30. THEN–I was not aware of this–I had to take a train to a satellite terminal to get to my gate! Boarding door closes at 7.10pm. I made it there at 7.09pm. Not even kidding. Phew. I stunk so bad that day after rushing from the hiking place to my hotel then from my hotel to the airport.
Wait! It’s not over just yet!
On the flight, I realized I’ve made a grave mistake. In my mad dash to check out of my hotel on the second day, I forget to clear the safe. It contained my wallet and my Kindle.
We were mid-air. There was nothing I could have done. It just dawned on me right then and there–somewhere in the skies above Southeast Asia–that all these are lessons for me to let go. I have to realize that some things I really can’t control. You can only anticipate so much. There will continue to be mistakes. Things won’t always go according to plan. I will almost certainly continue to be at the receiving end of unfortunate events.
“We only control maybe 50% of the game.”
God was indeed kind this time. I also managed to get my wallet and Kindle back in the mail–within just one day for the case of the wallet. Amazing. My lessons came at a very low price, but they are remembered alright.
For most of 2014, I’ve been an uptight and stubborn child, complaining about things I cannot change and always planning for imagined brighter days ahead. I did not live 2014 well. But it’s over, and now 2015 is my present–in both senses of the word.
Relinquish control: This is one of my goals for 2015.
Let go and let God.
May 2015 come to you with peace and mindfulness.