A Lesson In Patience (or I’m Really Not in Control, So What Am I Going to Do?)

I am at the University of St. Thomas Gainey Center in Owatanna, where I am giving a weekend retreat for UST undergraduates. Owatanna is about 65 miles southeast of where I live in Chanhassen. Normally it takes me a little over an hour to get there.

In the aftermath of Thursday’s snowstorm, the roads between my home and Gainey yesterday were treacherous and traffic was miserable. (Re treacherous: after 15 or 16, I lost track of disabled vehicles in ditches or snowbanks.) There was one point where we just sat on the road without moving for a while, after which I think I traveled quite a distance at somewhere between one and two miles an hour. There were periodic letups in the traffic, just enough to tempt one to believe conditions would be better, but they never lasted all that long. To top it off, the road was closed two exits before the one I wanted, requiring several miles of driving on a secondary road that had less traffic, but much more snow. I arrived at Gainey just shy of three hours after I pulled out of my driveway.

There is nothing to do in such a situation except to breathe deeply, be in the present moment, and patiently accept the conditions for what they are.

Of course, there are people who try to do otherwise. One driver, annoyed at the slow conditions, decided the thing to do was to pull to the right and drive along the right shoulder. That worked for about 20 seconds, after which he found himself stuck in deep snow. Others would speed up as soon as they saw a patch or road without snow (there were a few) – I saw one truck who did that almost jackknife (a bit too close to my car for my comfort).

Traffic or otherwise, we will find ourselves in situations we can’t control, sometimes situations that are not to our liking. We can’t control the situations, but we can choose how to react to them.

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