What To Do When Your Current Life Story Sucks

The story on my lips all week was how I was sick with the flu for 11. Whole. Days. This was so blatantly unfair, especially since I was hit when I was supposed to be enjoying a vacation and some eagerly awaited alone time while my kids sailed the Caribbean with their dad. My plan was to treat myself to a 3-night getaway at a Bed & Breakfast. I made it there only to spend the whole time in bed (in what was, admittedly, a much nicer set of sheets than what I have at home).

I had a very hard time accepting this turn of events. My main getaway goal had been to get ahead in my writing, I wanted to flesh out a list of blog ideas and come home with a file folder full of finished pieces. Instead I've been smacked back to the present moment, reduced to writing about the mundane nothingness of being sick.

I get it: being "ahead" is not where I need to be.

My mind is so often focused on what's next...? If being human is, as the poet Rumi writes, a guest house, then I am like the host who is in a constant state of preparation. When sickness, boredom, confusion--sometimes even joy--arrive as unexpected visitors, I struggle to welcome them as honorable guests.

So my story, in those 11 days, was one of disappointment. The book I'd bought (from a real bookstore!) was never cracked open, the pages of the brand new journal remained blank, the hiking shoes stayed mud-free.

I suppose the experience was rich in its simplicity. Equally true is that is simply sucked. It also tested my belief that everything happens for my good.

Be grateful, Rumi says.

So I'm grateful that on my third morning at the B&B I managed to get downstairs and nibble a little fruit from the dazzling breakfast spread. Next to me sat a couple in their 80's, and as we chatted I learned that, like me, they too have a son named Lincoln. Like my son, he was once called 'Stinky Linky.' Now he's a 50-year-old man who teaches at an inner city school in Chicago. He loves his job and his students love him.

This will be my memory of my spring break vacation, when I "met" this other Lincoln, despite barely leaving my room. It hardly counts as a story, but I like it anyway.

And I don't always get to be the storyteller. Some weeks it's enough, it really is, to sit in the doorway, to wait, and to be the listener.

Tammy Letherer is a writing coach who loves to help others find their voice, whether in a blog or in a book. She is the author of one novel, Hello Loved Ones, and a memoir, Real Time Wreck: A Crash Course in Betrayal and Divorce, for which she is seeking agent representation. Follow her on Facebook and LinkedIn.