So in the last couple of days, I could have thrown a strop, carried on, got depressed, felt sorry for myself and told myself how stupid I was. You see I went horse riding in the Podocarpus National Park in Ecuador and at some point while I am happily trotting my way down steep and bumpy hills, my backpack zips have opened themselves up and strewn every single thing inside all over the trail. A non-comprehensive list of shit that I lost is as follows:
- My water bottle
- My favourite jacket
- My spare camera (that if I am to be a bit honest was a little bit fucked in that if you wanted to use the thing you had to keep the battery turned the wrong way while not in use so that the whole thing didn’t die in thirty minutes and you couldn’t change the settings or do anything. Half the time it started recording for shits and giggles).
- My black bikini (good luck to anyone who gets their hands on that one and manages to find someone with boobs big enough to fit in it to sell it to).
- My sarong
- A 9/10 empty bottle of sunscreen
- A 9/10 empty bottle of bug spray
- The hostel room key
Within thirty seconds of realising that this had happened, I started to laugh. I could have got upset with myself for not noticing. I could have got annoyed with myself because I should have zipped it down the side and maybe the pressure of the trot wouldn’t have opened my bag. I could have gotten upset about losing all of my things.
Instead I adopted the ‘shit happens’ attitude that my mother always harped on about, laughed and got on with it. The thing is, one of the biggest lessons I have learned in this life is that it isn’t what happens to you that is the most important thing. For the most part, we cannot control much of this anyway. What is most important, is how you choose to react to it. And yes, I use the word choose.
So much stress is created in this life by people getting worked up about things that shouldn’t be important. I looked at it this way. My good camera was still in my bra. I can buy another water bottle (the old one was shit and leaked anyway. The new one is still shit and still leaks anyway, but not the point). I have another bikini. Who needs a dirty sarong anyway. And jacket…. well, I am sure it will make somebody else very happy and warm. The thing that irked me most was losing the hostel key because it wasn’t mine to lose, but they didn’t care either. And thankfully I decided not to take my wallet with me that day so that I could go to the bank. I avoided losing my ATM card by doing this. And as much as they said that they would “look” for it, I know that this is Ecuador. There’s no chance in hell I was getting any of it back.
But things are things. They are material possessions that we shouldn’t place so much attachment to. And yet we do, all the time, get worked up about these material possessions when they break, go missing or whatever. The truth is, by doing this, we are creating our own stress. I would prefer to believe that someone else is now with my stuff and using it for their own use, just like I used the umbrella I coerced from a security guard in the English pub under the theory of the “lost goods karma train”. OK, I was drunk at the time, but the theory stands. I lose something that someone else finds and uses, I find something that someone else loses and use and love that until it dies, which I did with the umbrella.
We tend to forget that as humans, we make mistakes, things go wrong. People blame themselves and experience guilt for the most menial things at times, like losing all of your stuff. But in these moments, there is nothing at all you can do except accept. Accept that this is the circumstance, that it is how it is, and move on with a smile on your face. Because I could have let it ruin my day. But I chose not to let it. I chose to let the incident go and laugh about it, and that is what makes all the difference. If as humans, we could learn to forgive ourselves easier, forgive others easier, and learn to let things go, we would save ourselves so much stress in the long run.
And yet, we don’t. We get angry, worked up, overthink and can’t let go. We make things so much harder for ourselves than they need to be in so many cases. OK, so a guy or a girl was shit to you, get rid of them and move on. Who needs to spend all day analysing why this other person is or behaves like an arsehole. So you accidentally dropped your favourite piece of food on the ground and ruined it. Meh. You accidentally shrunk your jeans in the dryer? Give them to someone who needs them and move on. These types of thinks are not worth a second thought. So don’t badger yourself about them. Because it is how we approach the trivial things in our day to day lives that affects most our overall happiness. You can choose to be stressed and angry, or you can choose to let it go and just be happy.