“Am I too late?”, I asked the man guarding the bus station.
Out of breath from running for almost 10 minutes just to catch the 9 PM bus, I hurriedly opened my backpack so he can inspect it.
I looked inside the bus station worried that I wouldn’t make it and to my dismay saw the bus just left.
“You’re right on schedule.”, he answered back with a smile.
“What do you mean? I just missed it!”, I annoyingly told him and pointed to the spot where the bus was parked a minute ago.
He probably noticed how disappointed I was.
He told me, “Hey, it’s okay. A better bus is coming. This one’s more comfortable for a lady like you. It has better seat options to choose from so you can get the best view. Better air-condition too. If you have taken the last bus, you’d have to sit at the far end and it would be a bumpy ride. Would you settle for that? No need to be upset about the one that left. Just wait.”
“Thank you.”, I answered back briefly. The guy made sense. He was right. So, I took a seat and wait patiently for the next bus to come, with anticipation of a long but a comfortable ride.
Sometimes, we focus too much at a closed door that we don’t see the one that has been opened for us.
In my case, it was the bus that I missed – the bus that left me.
I was so upset thinking about all my efforts to be able to make it to the 9 PM schedule. I left home early that day so as not to get stuck in traffic. I cancelled a coffee meeting with a friend prior to the trip because our conversation might take longer than expected. I tried with all my might to make it. Unfortunately, there was an accident on our way to the bus station that blocked the road for more than half an hour. A few meters away, I didn’t want to wait inside the Uber car anymore so I decided to just walk from there. Eventually, I had to run because I didn’t have that much time left. In short, it wasn’t my lucky day that day.
After everything, I still didn’t make it. I still missed the bus. But right at that moment, I remembered what the nice guard told me, “You’re right on schedule.”
Then it hit me. I realized that what he really meant to say was, “You’re right on time for the better one.”
In life, it’s so easy to feel upset about what we’ve missed – missed opportunities, missed promotions, missed dreams and missed relationships. We often question why even after trying our best, things still don’t work out in our favor. We thought we have it all covered. We’ve done everything we’re supposed to do. We’ve envisioned that by this time we’ve already accomplished our plans. And yet, here we are missing the schedule – missing the bus.
Truth is, there’s nothing I could do about that missed trip anymore. I missed it for a reason. At the time, I considered what the guard told me. I was meant to take the next one which was a lot better. I wasn’t meant for a bumpy ride because I deserve to be safe and comfortable. I deserve better.
All those missed opportunities we have in life are meant to teach us one absolute truth: We are meant to go in a new direction. We may not see that clearly now, but in hindsight it is crystal clear. One day, it’ll make sense. We hold on so tight and so long to the “what ifs”, and we fail to realize that it’s actually holding us back.
When things don’t go our way, we feel bad. When we feel like we’re not where we’re supposed to be at this stage of our lives, we feel unfulfilled and unhappy. It’s so easy to get caught up with what went wrong. Oftentimes, our being too focused on what we’ve missed makes us ignore the unexpected good things that came out of it – the good things right in front of us.
It takes courage to accept that something didn’t work out. It’s easier to dwell on it. When a relationship fails, we think about that person – what could have been, all the good times we had and how sad we are that it’s over. It’s normal to sit and stare at the closed door thinking what is on the other side. We wonder how to unlock it again or why it closed in the first place. The result is that we let a few good people, who are standing behind an open door, slip through our fingers, and their doors end up closing on us before we even noticed they were open.
What we choose to focus on expands.
From personal experience, I can say that many good things are born out of bad experiences. I’ve had a lot of missed opportunities, unaccomplished plans and even almost relationships. There are times I’m tempted to feed the “I’m so unlucky” storyline in my head. It would be hypocritical to say I always see the good in the bad. I don’t. I’m not always patient and understanding. There are times I choose not to care and accept that this all that there is to it – this is “just” how the story goes. I’m tired of hoping. Tired of wrong timings and running after things/people only to realize I’ve missed them. It hurts.
I realized though that out of those painful moments, I could gain something. I could use the disappointment and pain to become better and stronger whenever life feels uncertain.
In today’s world, people have set so many standards and timelines. The more we’re unable to comply with them, the more we feel sorry for ourselves. The more we’re drawn to the “what is wrong with me?” mentality. We want to have them and achieve them because we’re supposed to at this age, at this given time. But after missing several bullet points from this so-called timeline, I learned how to be okay with it. And mind you, it’s okay to be okay with it for one obvious reason:
“Each person’s journey is unique.”
This is your own life. This is your own story to live. Your own race to run. Don’t let other people pressure you. Most importantly, be kind to yourself. You might have missed several things in life but it’s not too late. There’s a big difference between never and not yet.
In my unhappy times, I remind myself that the clouds will pass. And the sooner I welcome the sun, the sooner it appears. At times I feel like I’m left behind, I learn to appreciate how far I’ve come, how self-reliant I can be, and how limited our time truly is.
You can dwell on what isn’t going your way, or you can focus on what you have the power to control.
Life is not meant to be a series of dreams coming true but a series of lessons to be learned. At some point you just need to let go of what you thought should happen and live in what is happening. You can’t do anything about what you’ve already missed. It’s over and done. But, you still have today, tomorrow and the days to come. Imagine just appreciating what you have and what you can do right at this moment without judging your current circumstances. It’s freeing, isn’t it?
“It’s here!”, I was lost in thoughts when I heard this from the lady sitting beside me. I was brought back right to the present and saw the 10PM bus arriving. Its sweeping headlights focused on me like a spotlight for a few seconds. I looked back at where the nice guard was standing. He waved at me, pointed to the bus and shouted, “Better!”.
With a smile on my face, I stood up, picked up my backpack and boarded the bus. Indeed, there’s no reason to be upset about the one I’ve missed because a new one has arrived. I may have waited but it’s worth it. No doubt, it turned out to be a lot better. I have the window seat with the best view. The journey has just begun, and my heart is smiling knowing it will be one hell of a good ride.