The morning of our final full day in Italy our B&B host drove us to the bus stop to catch the 11:15 down the mountain. We arrived at 10:55 followed by the bus five minutes later, departing with us on it well before 11:15. Had we arrived any later than we did, we wouldn’t have made it down the mountain until nightfall, completely canceling our option to visit Pompeii, which was by far one of our favorite experiences the entire trip.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The bus took us down most of the mountain until the bus broke and then we stood on the side of the road with the other passengers waiting for a not broken bus to replace our broken one. The second bus deposited us what felt like a mile from the train station, which we located only with the help of a kind fellow bus passenger, and secured passage on the local to Pompeii, where we spent the entire afternoon roaming chariot-rutted streets and long-ago abandoned buildings.
I ate my final pizza.
After walking around Pompeii all afternoon we got back on the local train to continue our way to Naples, standing the entire trip because the train was overflowing with passengers. From the Naples depot, we took a taxi to our hotel and then walked to a nearby market for some snacks and collapsed in our room for the night, knowing our airport departure time would come much sooner than our bodies wanted to allow.
I thought a lot about that experience, even in the middle of it. Actually, especially in the middle of it — that part when the bus broke down and no one spoke any English and I watched other passengers wander away from the group and I wondered whether we were totally on our own to find new transportation for the remainder of a trip whose route I did not know? Or was I meant to stand in the middle of the road in front of the now defunct bus? Had I correctly understood the message the driver animatedly tried to communicate? Nothing was immediately apparent to me, except my feeling of immense responsibility for the safety of my daughter, niece and sister-in-law, all of whom were traveling with me.
And I decided to let it go, to drop my attachment to any feelings of frustration, anger or fear about what was happening. I had zero control over the situation with the bus and, therefore, zero control over what might happen next. So instead of being upset at the bus breaking down, I took a picture of the roadsigns directly above my head and smiled at how beautiful a day it was and if we had to stand in the middle of this Italian mountain village, then I was certainly glad the sun was shining! Besides, what’s a good adventure without a transportation mishap somewhere along the way? And within minutes a fresh working bus arrived to carry us the rest of the way down the mountain.
As I considered my entire three weeks traveling through Italy I am aware that we arrived every single place we wanted, saw every single thing we wanted to see, found every single house, apartment, hotel, or B&B we booked, were always safe, never missed an experience, and even discovered new delights that expanded our lives and world view because we could see that everything happens for us, not to us, and everything always works out for us.
That’s the way it always is. There are lots of variations and ways to say that life happens for you, not to you, and once you see that, life gets a whole lot better. Steve Chandler posits this shift in perspective is the difference between being a victim of your life and its owner. I like to see it as being the creator of my experience because with every single out of my control occurrence, I get to make a choice. I can choose to react (victim) or I can choose to act (create).
The bus is going to break down.
Breakdowns and unknowns are a given. Do better than “just deal with it.” Choose to be expanded by the breakdown moments and see that they happen for you. No one is against you. Not the bus, not its driver, not the other passengers, not the universe. There is no universe. There’s only you and the stories you make up inside your own head. So if you’re struggling with a case of “I can’t believe this is happening to me,” then shift your perspective. Create a new story.
Play with the possibility that what’s happening is for your benefit.
What can you see when you rise up to street sign height?
The sky is gorgeous from up here.
Do yourself a favor and celebrate how for you it all is.