Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Right, Wrong, Place and Time

In yesterday’s blog, I described my hopes of seeing the aurora borealis last night.  Well, late in the evening, Al and I went out looking for darkness and unobstructed views of the sky.  It was pretty easy to find promising viewing spots, because within a few miles of our home, suburban neighborhoods with their lights and tree cover give way to wide open corn fields.  We found a good spot and pulled off the road. 
I am not sure why, but once the car was parked and the radio turned off, we spoke in hushed voices, barely above a whisper.  We were encouraged as the light cloud cover began to dissipate and we got some nice views of the summer constellations.  It felt a little odd, but we just stood in front of our car, whispering and waiting, looking skyward, and waiting some more.  Patience is not my strong suit, but I do understand that you can’t expect the aurora borealis to appear when the audience has assembled like some kind of drive- in movie.   So we tried to be patient.  And we talked in hushed voices and waited some more.   And we tried to be patient.  But I kept thinking about having to get up for work in the morning and it was already after midnight.  And we waited some more.   I kept thinking about the article I read that said that there was a CHANCE that we’d see them as far south as Saginaw, but most likely the only good viewing would be in the Upper Peninsula.  And we stood there waiting, talking in hushed voices.  Trying to be patient.
 We lasted about 45 minutes.  And no, we did not see the aurora borealis.  This morning, I checked out Google images and found some spectacular photographs from the Upper Peninsula.  Maybe we were just in the wrong place.  But, I also saw some nice images from Traverse City taken in the early morning hours.  I suspect that had we waited until the wee hours of the morning, we might have seen something similar at our location.    So, we might have been in a good  place at the wrong time.  Quite possibly, we were in the wrong place at the wrong time.  All that I know for sure is that we weren’t at the right place at the right time.
I started thinking (oh no, not that!) about how much is dependent on being in the right place at the right time.   Sometimes it is just luck.  I recall our trip to Alaska and the day we hiked out to the end of a trail to see Denali.  It turns out that a relatively small fraction of Alaskan tourists actually see the mountain because it is almost always fogged in.  At first it seemed like we would be members of that unfortunate majority, but just as we got to the end of the trail the clouds parted and framed,  in a square region of clear sky, the peak of the tallest mountain in North America.  Our view lasted about 10 minutes before the clouds converged once more. We were lucky enough to be in the just the right place at just the right time.
When you think about right, wrong, place and time, only one combination will really get you anywhere. I suppose that is how we try to direct our lives, ensuring that we are in the right place at the right time as often as possible.   But things don’t always work out the way we plan.  One day last May, I was trying to get to my office so that I would be in the right place at the right time to lead an important meeting.  But, before I got to the right place at the right time, I had a moment where I was definitely in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I had a serious car accident that morning.  I still relive that moment of horror when time and place were definitely aligned against me.  Or were they?  Yes, the car was destroyed, but I was only superficially hurt.  So, while it is true that had I arrived at that intersection  a few seconds earlier or later  I would have been in a slightly different place and  MIGHT have missed the accident all together, it is equally true that had it been  a few milliseconds earlier or later, I might have been killed.  Right time/right place?  Wrong time/wrong place?  Hard to tell, isn’t it?
I was disappointed that I missed a chance to see the northern lights and the type A part of me would have loved to cross off an item from my top 100 list, but that’s ok. Maybe last night we were at the right time and right place to motivate us to  to make a special trip to a northern realm to see the aurora.  Maybe then  we’ll be in just the right place at just the right time to see a truly spectacular event.
Today, I am grateful for moments of being in the right place at the right time, even if it isn’t always perfectly clear.
P.S.  This is unrelated to my post (or is it?) but I am writing and posting this from 35,000 feet above Lincoln, Nebraska on my way to LA.  Gotta love GoGo wireless, available on select Delta flights! 

No comments:

Post a Comment