I learned a great lesson about trusting the universe this weekend and it was delivered in a characteristically humorous way.
Yes, the universe definitely has a sense of humor!
I love Halloween. It's hands down my favorite holiday and really the only one that I get excited about. And the part that I get excited about is dressing up. I don't decorate or carve pumpkins or buy Halloween candy, but I will put a fair amount of thought and effort into pulling together my costume.
A few weeks ago my family let me know that they were coming down to visit which I was super thrilled about. The date was set for the Saturday before Halloween AND as every hardcore Halloween aficionado knows, the Saturday before Halloween is costume party night.
Having my family come visit was a big deal. I don't get to spend nearly as much time with them as I would like and their willingness to drive hundreds of miles to come spend a day and a night with Andy and me was something that meant a lot to us.
Still I made multiple suggestions that they either bring costumes with them or allow me to dress them all up when they arrived. How much fun would it be (for me!) if we all dressed up and celebrated Halloween together?
But my suggestions weren't landing. At all. And the night before they were due to arrive I sent one final plea, that was gently but firmly shut down. There would be no costumes.
And that's when I had my moment. There would be no costumes and it was totally okay. I took my costume box and put it back in storage. I broke the news to Andy. I completely let it go.
The next day we spent in Jacksonville wandering around town and enjoying the outrageously gorgeous fall weather. We stopped for a beer out on the patio of the local pub and it started to get cold. We turned on the patio heaters. It was still cold.
We were facing a long chilly walk to the car to pick up our coats. On the way we decided to stop at the grocery store to pick up some breakfast foods for the morning.
And that's where the magic happened, right there in Ray's Grocery in Jacksonville, Oregon...
I was headed down the frozen food aisle with a bag of frozen hash-browns in hand and at the end of the aisle there was my dad standing there with a furry full-faced chicken mask in his hand.
"I think this will keep me warm", he said.
And then we all jumped in and picked animal masks and crazy hats—tiger, wolf, monkey, and Elmer Fudd. We had them on before we even left the store. We were warm. We looked ridiculous.
My dad's chicken mask was by far the most comical of them all. And the more we laughed at him, the more he embraced his inner chicken. He flapped his arms. He clucked. He clucked at strangers.
"Cluck cluck" he would say as we walked by other pedestrians and the rest of us practically collapsed with laughter.
Guys, my dad is not a silly man. Funny, yes. Charming, for sure. Silly, not really.
And here's the lesson. I could have kept pushing on the costumes. I could have decorated my family with wigs, and feather boas, and other props from my costume box. I could have insisted that they wear these things in Jacksonville.
But it wouldn't have had the effect that I wanted which was really for us all to have a good time together.
Instead by letting go of my own expectations, something spontaneously occurred that was far better than anything I could have possibly engineered myself.
When we let go of expectations and the insistence that things should go a certain way, we open up to the opportunity for things to unfold in a way that is even greater than our expectations.