Last weekend I took my two teenagers and we drove off to Milan, Italy, on another prolonged weekend, to just hang out together, re-connect, enjoy each other’s company, with no pressure squeezing us anywhere.
The reason we picked Milan was that none of us had seen it yet and we like discovering new places, but primarily we all wanted to see Da Vinci’s Last Supper. And kids hoped to do some shopping – something I could not care less about. But since just waking around old cities and observing life is fairly enjoyable for me, I did not mind either.
Many weeks ahead I tried to buy the tickets for The Last Supper over the internet, just to learn that they tend to be sold out many months in advance and that there was not tickets left for that weekend. I attempted many different websites in order to buy tickets and I sent numerous e-mails, but just kept getting negative answers. No tickets left in October! With our hotel already booked it seemed we were going to miss our primary target and I sort of started to face this fact.
However, I just couldn’t let it go, really. So I did some more research on the places like Trip Advisor and learned that sometimes there are some tickets left and that one needs to call and be very persistent to get them. So I picked the timing very carefully (9.30 seemed best – I guessed after the morning coffee they would be fresh and positive), put on my best voice, expressed a lot of empathy and connecting language to the lady on the other side…, and got the tickets. No problem. Piece of cake. Thank you, thank you, you may all sit down now and stop clapping.
A small thing indeed, but reminded me of a big learning that got confirmed so many times in my life. I first started to notice this thing after reading about the magic parking technique about twenty years ago (weird, everything in my life seemed to have happened about twenty years ago). The idea was to just be persistent with intention when trying to find a parking in the city, not falling into the pitfalls of whining, upset, panic… So this is what I started to practice; get into the street where I wanted to park, squeeze in somewhere temporarily and wait, with clear intention to get a parking lot and with still and peaceful mind. I felt like a hawk. My attention was sharp, my spirit was calm and I was fully ready. It never felt more than five minutes before I spotted a person on the pavement, taking car-keys out of their pocket or purse while walking. I started the engine and followed them slowly (felt like Bruce Willis)… The next minute I was happily locking my parked car.
From then on it happened so many times, so many hopeless times on airports, traffic jams, train stations, deadlines, problems, critical situations, where I could have gone down the automatic line of despair, but somehow managed to stay focused. When in New York, for instance, we were half a Manhattan away from Broadway, with tickets for the In the Heights show that was just about to start, stuck in the metro station and just learned that the line, OUR LINE!, got shut down due to technical problems… There were so many great reasons to start arguing there and then about who’s fault it was, who was the first one to be late, why did we miss the last metro, who, what, why, why not… Yet we managed to stay focused, with clear intention and, thought it looked that the only way to get there would be for Scotty to beam us over, we managed to sit down in the theatre just seconds before the lights went out, true all sweaty and barely able to catch our breath. But we were there!
The trick seems to be to not go, in these crucial moment, down the path of blaming either ourselves or others, cursing over the destiny, whining and crying and feeling pity for oneself, just simply not go there, but rather breathe, remain calm and present, attentive and focused on whatever we are hoping to achieve. This sheer intention tends to do the magic.
I, of course, don’t think that starting a two hour journey an hour late will do the trick, no matter how much intention we have. Since the right intention will start way before that, enabling us to start on time in order to make it on time.
And I also don’t want to push in to the limits either, claiming we can fully and arbitrarily create everything in our lives, like some modern quantum physicist and philosophers suggest. I just believe that often, when things seem hopeless and impossible, they just simply seem that way, but they don’t necessarily are impossible and hopeless. And with a peaceful mind, clear focus and intention, with keeping moving rather than stopping in despair, we can get way much further.
Yet, on the second thought, while speaking about the laws of physics: I have experienced enough “impossible” things in my life to have learned to never call anything impossible. Perhaps, with a 100% intention and 0% reluctance, maybe it is possible to alter the physical universe and walk through the walls, who knows.
Or maybe not.