A month ago, I was riding the motorcycle to work. “Might even make it on time,” I thought. While pulling away from a stoplight a couple miles from home, it felt like the bike was suddenly out of gear. Like the clutch was disengaged. There was a disturbing grinding sound just beneath and behind me. No matter what I tried, the bike was coasting to a halt.
How are you supposed to respond to negative turns like this? Normally I kick and scream and whine and get frustrated.
I parked the bike and got a ride from a friend. It had to be towed. Six hundred dollars and three weeks of sharing the main vehicle with wife, I had a new final drive connecting the driveshaft to the rear wheel. Friday evening, I was thrilled to pick it up — only to quickly get another “opportunity” to choose my response.
On Monday, before leaving work for the day, I saw two silver dots in the rear tire. Most likely a construction staple, but the head had already worn away, leaving the two studs. Not just one puncture, but two. Sheesh again.
Using pliers, I pulled on one. It came out with an immediate pssssssshhhhh sound and my hands felt air. Sheesh. I put the staple back in and rode slowly to the nearest bike shop. Could they get me a new tire before closing? It was a long shot, and wife was ready to pick me up if I needed to leave the bike.
The shop workers weren’t annoyed at my late arrival, and instead quickly took the bike around back. While they removed the tire, I worked with the man at the parts counter to find a decent replacement. We picked one and everything worked out remarkably well — despite the unexpected cost.
Within no time I was riding home with a new tire and a sense of relief.
What’s odd is contrasting this experience with countless others where I have responded poorly. I would have freaked out, thrown up my hands in frustration, lost sleep over the inconvenience, leaned on wife to make the decisions, and whined about the money.
This time was pleasantly different.
It required acknowledging this was out of my control and acting on the best option available. I never got upset or indecisive. You might think it crazy, but I honestly felt peaceful. I knew it would work out and there was no need to freak out. Dr. Frankl’s wise words came to mind:
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
A bad attitude means a poorly chosen response.
This time, I chose well. Now it’s your turn.
Do you believe you can choose your own response? Do you think you can actually enjoy tough experiences?