I was on a road trip with my six year old niece once when we made a quick stop for a bathroom break and some essentials. We made our way through the store, picked out our favorite snacks, and headed for the counter. She requested a cherry Icee on the way so we grabbed that too.
When we got to the check-out counter; i was handing over the money and I heard her speak up, “Hmph” with a curious tone to her voice. I could tell she was really fascinated with something so I asked, “What is it?” It was then, in total delight, that she replied, “I just can’t believe that Icee’s are free!”
“My Icee…. I can’t believe it was free!”
“oh no sweetie, it isn’t free; I just paid for it”
“no you didn’t…”
“Really, I did. What do you mean, it’s free? I just paid for it.”
At this point there are 3 people standing in line behind me but no one cares because they are all staring at her, waiting on the answer..because clearly everyone knows that i just paid for that Icee.
“No. You paid for the cup.” she said emphatically, “but the Icee was free.”
We all giggled at her perspective as we walked away, but it really stuck with me. My niece knew that the good stuff, the Icee, was free. You just have to be willing to get yourself an empty cup. It made perfect sense to her that it would work that way. You find a little space for opportunity in your life and you enjoy the good that comes. We were willing to buy an empty cup, and we we got this amazing opportunity to fill it with a cherry flavored Icee.
I remember in my twenties when a company I had worked with for seven years decided to close my territory. I knew they were going to let me go and I was devastated. When I met with my boss to discuss the news, he asked me, “Don’t you think there is something more you would rather be doing? Something that better fits who you are?” The truth is he was right. There was SO much more I would rather be doing but I never would have left the security of that job to seek it out. Sure enough, within a week the first signs of a new career began to show up in my path. Now this was the universe buying me an empty Icee cup… Sometimes it knows we just aren’t going to grab one on our own! Losing that secure and stable job actually changed my life. It changed my career path which led me to graduate school and the chance to better understand and become the person I knew I was called to be. What I needed was a change of perspective. I made space in my life for the opportunity and something amazing came in to fill it.
We often look at situations and so clearly see them for what we believe they are. We never pause to question them or consider other options. We make assumptions that feel so factual in our minds that we don’t even realize we are assuming. Our assumptions then become our truth. We assume we are stuck in the hardest route possible when others may see an easy detour. We assume we are happy in our careers when really we are just comfortable. We assume we have to wait for all the best things, when really we just need to make a little space in our life for opportunity. A little breathing room for potential. The good things tend to naturally show up where they have room to fit in.