My daughter had a “publishing” party at her school recently, and so, instead of driving her as I usually do, we took public transportation. This consists of hopping on the subway near our house, and then getting off at 110th street to catch a bus across the top of the park. As we emerge from the subway station, there is a tense moment where we scan the traffic circle between the two bus stops to see if a bus is coming. If one is stopped at the light, we have just enough time to run from the stairwell to catch it. If the light has already turned green, it’s quite a hustle to make it there in time, but there are usually enough people waiting at the stop or also running alongside us to hold the bus.
This particular morning the bus was already in motion through the traffic lights, so my daughter took off running to catch it. I was weighed down with large shopping bags of food that I had bought for the party, so I was only moving at half my usual pace. The bus stopped and opened its doors, but despite the fact that she was standing right there, and asked the driver to wait, he closed the doors and pulled away as I approached.
“Mommy, I asked him to wait, but he didn’t!” Isabel complained.
“I know,” I said.
A friend of mine once told me that she uses the phrase, “That’s not my bus!” whenever she just misses one. I love it and have used it since. Saying, “That’s not my bus!” has put me in a space of being able to let that one go, and wait for the next one, which definitely IS my bus or train. I mean, clearly, if I’m not on the bus, it wasn’t mine.
So I reminded her, “Well, that wasn’t our bus.”
“But,” she grumbled, “I asked him to wait and he didn’t!”
“Yes, it’s frustrating,” I said, “especially when you asked him to wait. But he didn’t, so we might as well sit here until the next one comes.”
For a few minutes we sat on the bench reading, but I could tell that she was still upset. I also had remnants of frustration and impatience. I kept thinking how there was no other bus in sight, and how it would have been so easy for that bus driver just to wait for us, and imagining where we would be on our journey to school at that moment if he HAD waited.
Sitting there wishing for one thing and getting another, I suddenly realized how incredibly fruitless it was to spend even 10 seconds wishing that I had run faster, or he had been more patient, or my daughter had been more persistent, or SOMETHING – because that’s not what happened. It didn’t turn out how it SHOULD HAVE, it turned out how it DID. How often we spend our energy on what DIDN’T happen, or what MIGHT have happened, rather than what IS happening!
I thought back to last fall when we went to Barbados. Isabel was boogie-boarding at the beach. She came running up to me with her board dragging behind her. “Having fun?” I asked.
“Well,” she said, gazing out over the ocean. “Sometimes I catch the waves, and sometimes I don’t.”
And then, looking up at me, she said, “ But, if I miss a wave, I just say to myself, ‘That’s not my wave!’”
Life presents us with an abundance of opportunities. If you miss out on one, just remember: ”that’s not your bus.” Focus your time and energy on what is in front of you, and try to let go of what could have been. Click here to download my free meditation to reconnect with your own sense of abundance by taking the time to slow down and tune in to what’s most important to you, whether that is building wealth, strengthening relationships or simply living a better life.