The Great Unexpected

I’ve never done it, and I may never do it, but that doesn’t mean I’m not addicted to watching others take it on.

Snowboarding, my friends.  I’ve spent the first few nights of the Olympics watching each snowboarding athlete with tense anticipation.

Will they make the rails?  The 1080 back-to-back rotations?  The landings?

Or, will they, like us, face the Great Unexpected?

Two nights ago, the women faced gusts of wind both fierce and unpredictable.  Many raced down the hill in what was already an abbreviated slopestyle event due to incoming weather, attacking the mountain and its immense carvings like the true warriors they are.  Temps made their landings hard on surfaces grown icy in the cold.

Then, the Great Unexpected.  A gust, 15 knots or more, lifts them when they should be falling, or pounds on them like an angry fist when they should be flying.  Like any of us when the Great Unexpected strikes, they struggle to deal with the challenge with grace.  They fall but storm to the finish anyway, angry, disappointed, but able to fly another day.

Would a fall on the icy slope have resulted in a worse option?  Thankfully, we won’t have to know that answer.

American Chloe Kim on the Half-pipe
1st run, winning Gold

I’ve been pondering the Great Unexpected in real time too.  Case in point:  Last week I had a nagging achy headache – and I rarely ever get a headache.  In fact, I couldn’t even remember having one for years.  Nothing I took made it better.  Something in the house air smelled metallic to me, which I wrote off as a reaction to the pain.

A day later, I noticed the pain became worse with the smell and seemed to go away when I left the house.  Now, Dear Hubby swears it’s a toss-up as to who has a sharper sense of smell, me or Flynn, our hound dog.  Dear Hubby finally caught a whiff of it too.  We called for a service visit.

The Great Unexpected.  Not only did we have cracks in the furnace, but it was dangerous to run.  We spent a shivery weekend, trying to work with two space heaters (as the electric meter whirled at the speed of sound) and a (mildly effective) fireplace.  We got quotes.  We picked one.  We happily agreed to pay a little extra to have it installed this week, cutting our continuing cold shivers from three weeks to three more days.

But what if?  Our gas detectors never caught the scent.  Nothing went off.  What if we’d fallen asleep and never woken up?

Like those freaking gusts of wind, the early warning system of nose and head gave us the lead we needed to stay safe.  I’ll gladly take the discomfort of a few days in the cold (hey, good cuddling weather!) over the alternative.  When it comes time to write the final check, neither one of us will blink, despite the hole in the budget.

Did we handle this with grace?  I don’t know yet – I’m cranky in the cold mornings, when my hands in fingertip-less gloves cramp over the keyboard and my nose runs.  I won’t be truly grateful until warmth again whooshes out of our vents.  Budget juggling may mean giving up a trip later this year.  I’ll remind myself why it was necessary, even if it’s 80 outside by then.

Because – think of the alternative.  The landing could have crushed us.

How do you face the Great Unexpected?  How do you manage those situations gracefully, with gratitude and even joy?  Please share your experiences in the comments below!

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