I used to be a pessimist.
I saw the things I missed out on, the slights by others, the “never gonna happen” reactions.
Somewhere along this journey I found my own silver lining playbook.
I started seeing the other side of those missed moments, failures, changes to my plans.
We often think we know why things happen in our life. I have come to realise my life is made up of a series of sliding door moments and, just like Gwyneth Paltrow’s character in the movie of the same name, I don’t get to see how it plays out both ways.
We make our choices, events happen, others play their parts, but we don’t always see that what feels like the “wrong way” is actually the right path for us.
When I was heading overseas after graduating from college I had a plan. I had spent a year planning my route, the opportunities I would take up (au pair jobs in Europe, work on a game farm in Africa thanks to a college friend, and so on).
More than nineteen years ago my first stop was a kibbutz in Israel. A month before my departure I received a call asking if I would change my kibbutz and dates. I said yes.
That change led me to meet my English husband (who arrived there through his own sliding door moment that led him back to the kibbutz a second time thanks to an invitation from a friend).
I never made it to the European jobs or the game farm, but ended up living in Asia with him and finally settling in Australia 15 years ago.
Here in Australia he was a passenger in a car when they were cut off by another driver. Moments like that are when we usually get angry at other drivers for slowing us down or ruining our plans.
He watched seconds later as the car ahead was crashed into – on the passenger side right where he would have been.
I started seeing the greater plans and silver linings that previously eluded me.
When I miss the traffic light change I remind myself to use it as a water drinking break or an opportunity to chat with my daughters. It might be saving me from a mishap or simply putting me exactly where I need to be.
When I miss out on a job, an invitation or a house we wanted to buy I remind myself that the right one is out there for me.
It teaches me not to attach all my expectations to a moment, knowing the alternative is on the other side of the sliding door.
Even tragedies can bring great things to us if we release the focus on what has been taken from us or done to us.
My father died suddenly when I was 14 years old. My whole life changed in that moment.
As a 41-year-old woman I have considered repeatedly if I would undo it if given the chance – when I was younger it was an immediate yes, to have my father back.
The older me accepts the series of events that all unfolded as a result of that change in my life – leading me to head overseas, meet my husband, all the people I have met, my children I love.
While I will always wonder what my alternative life would have been like if he had lived, it brings me some peace that good can come from bad and there are truly silver linings in this life – if you are open to seeing them.
Have you ever experienced a sliding door moment? Do you see silver linings?