Over the weekend, I helped my friend Rich move into his new apartment. Everything went smoothly until our U-Haul broke down on I-95 South. It would be almost three hours until we made it to our destination.
As we stood there, watching the cars pass quickly and the minutes pass slowly, I was reminded of another inconvenient situation years earlier.
Back in May 2010, I flew to Nashville to study with Victor Wooten at his Music Theory camp. Victor’s campground, Wooten Woods, is located in Only, TN, about an hour west of Nashville off of I-90. Coincidentally, this also happened to be the same weekend of the Nashville flood.
The rain began pouring down Friday night, and we woke up to a small river running through the center of the camp. As the morning wore on, the rain increased, and the river quickly grew into a strong current, only passable with a four-wheel drive vehicle. It soon became clear that we needed to evacuate, but the road leading into camp had already been washed away, so rescue teams couldn’t get to us. We decided to head out on foot. Eventually, we were ferried out by boat a handful at a time. Once we made it back to I-90, the sheriff drove us to a nearby community center, where the Red Cross gave us food and clean clothes. We finally made it back to Victor’s house, where we learned and played music all night and the following day, as well as got to see some historic musical relics.
Throughout the whole ordeal, not a single person ever complained, and everyone’s spirits remained high. What amazed me most, though, was Victor’s leadership and attitude during the flood. Despite the fact that his camp was literally being destroyed by torrential rains, he never made a negative comment, never expressed a degree of disappointment.
I remember him telling me, “The way I see it, this is actually kind of fun! As long as no one’s in danger, it’s all a big adventure.”
Those words have stuck with me ever since, and I was reminded of them while standing on the side of the highway for three hours this weekend. Things happen, and we can’t do anything about it. We couldn’t prevent our U-Haul from breaking down any more than we could prevent Nashville from flooding.
The only thing we can control is what we make of the situation.
Of course, that weekend in Nashville was one of the best weekends of my life. Who else can say they’ve been to Victor Wooten’s house?! As we joked to each other, “Plenty of people can say they’ve been to Wooten Woods, but not many can say they’ve escaped from it!”
It’s easy to let crappy situations drag us down. What’s much more rewarding is trying to make the best of them. The crappy-ness isn’t going to last forever, and when it’s all over, you’ll probably have one hell of a story to tell.
When faced with forces we can’t control, sometimes all it takes is a small change in perspective to turn a disaster into an adventure.