Allegedly, every cloud has one. The thing is, these days we are sometimes too impatient – too blinded by the fog – to find our silver linings. The secret to finding them is knowing how and where to look!

With a growing ‘gimme, gimme, more, more, bigger, better NOW’ culture, we expect a lot from the world. We constantly compare ourselves to others (Thank you, Facebook and Instagram!) and find ourselves lacking.

“It isn’t FAIR!” we say. “It’s too hard!” Oh, how easily we forget that the clouds are unavoidable – and invariably much bigger than their silver linings. Essentially, a cloud is pretty hard to miss. You have to SEARCH for the silver lining. Here’s how I recently found mine:

Sunday 29th November 2015

I wake up (a little earlier than I want to) groggy, but excited because I’m going sailing ‘down the islands’ with one of my good friends on her boyfriend’s Catamaran. Fortunately, I went last weekend as well, so I don’t have to do the extensive shaving, plucking, polishing and waxing I ordinarily would. (TMI? Hey, you’re reading my DIARY, after all!) Getting ready should be a breeze! Plus, this time I’m borrowing my sister’s car (I sold mine in May) so I can get to and from the marina under my own steam. πŸ™‚

As I emerge from my lair (read ‘bedroom’) my mother graciously informs me that there is no water (insert complicated explanation about a faulty electric pump here). No showering, no brushing of teeth, no cooking or toilet-flushing possible. I’m going to have to go all the way to President’s Inn – my family’s guest house in Belmont – to get ready. Now, apart from my beach bag, I take the time to pack an extra towel, my makeup, toiletries, extra underwear… I’m packing as though I’m going on holiday. I hope this doesn’t make me late!

I head to President’s Inn… I can also pick up my sister’s car there. The water pressure is low. I make it work. As quickly as humanly possible, I get ready and make my way to the marina in my borrowed car. I get there just in time.

Fast-forward through an amazing day sailing, lounging, dancing, laughing and swimming (very badly)…

On our way back to the mainland I fall asleep on the boat and by the time I wake up night has fallen and we’ve already docked. I get my second wind and we ‘lime’ some more before we all decide to call it a night. I’m on the way home, driving just behind my friends’ car…

About 100 metres away from the marina, I hear a suspicious hissing noise and my steering wheel seems to develop a mind of its own. I hastily pull aside. My suspicion is confirmed; the right front tyre is a pathetic, black pancake. I’ve barely jumped out of the car when, from across the road, a uniformed soldier on guard duty informs me that I can’t park there. I’m across the road from a major military base. I try to explain my problem. I don’t even have credit on my phone; I can’t call for help. He seems unimpressed by my predicament. I am instructed to pull into a dark, lonely, dirt road nearby. Reluctantly, as I start to get back into the car, Soldier dude tells me that he will come to assist me when he is off-duty, which should be ‘soon’.

With an agonising caution, I drive onto that lonely road. Then, I jump out of the car and go searching in the trunk for the tools needed to change the tyre myself. I’ve never done this before – but it can’t be rocket science, right? My sister has not one, but two spare tyres in her trunk. Fantastic! Wheel spanner? Check. I also find a car jack. Awesome! But where’s the L-shaped cranky-thingy for the jack??? Come to think of it, even if I find that thingy, where exactly am I supposed to put the jack? Just anywhere under the car? I’m pretty sure I could damage something if I do this wrong. I ponder this.

I haul one of the tyres out of the trunk. I lean on it with all my weight. If it gives so much under my meagre 116-odd pounds, can it support the weight of the car? The engine is in front… the driver also sits there… that part of the car is HEAVY. I’m worried. Scared. Alone. Unable to call for help.

I have my hubby’s iPad with me – I’d been using it to Skype him right before I left for President’s Inn that morning. I have no WiFi though. I also have my Nook. It goes pretty much everywhere with me. I get back in the car and try to relax. I read. I’m tired, but it would be unwise to fall asleep.

Soldier dude said he would come to help. I wait. It’s almost an hour before another, heavily-armed soldier comes to the car, asking what’s going on. I explain my situation – though how it isn’t obvious, what with the spare tyre lying in the road next to the car, the flat tyre on the car, and the tools strewn about, is beyond my comprehension. Didn’t his colleague tell him? He asks for my sister’s number. He walks away – I am to wait there.

A few minutes later he returns. “Have you reached my sister?” Nope, he forgot the number. :/ He tells me to drive the car onto the Base. As I crawl in, more men in uniform emerge and instruct me to kill my headlights. I park and they produce a tool-kit from somewhere.

At first, there are a few of them, then there’s just one; ‘D’. He’s patiently helping me change the tyre. He explains where to put the jack. Oooohhhhhhhh. I see! ‘D.’ tells me they’d all seen me pull aside, but they’d waited almost an HOUR to help, because they’d been suspicious of me. WHAT?!?!?! You’ve got to be kidding me!

By midnight it’s done, I drive to a 24hr service station and put some pressure into the (almost flat) replacement tyre. I’m so tired that I can barely see straight. I also purchase a mobile top-up and attempt to call my sister. Please, pleeeeaaaaseee don’t make me drive all the way back to Belmont now to return this car! There’s no answer. Oh dear. There’s no escaping it. I could cry.

I drive there. She’s not at home. I leave the keys in her room and find a free room at the guest house, where I will spend the night. I’m so exhausted that I can’t sleep. πŸ™

Sounds like a stroke of bad luck, right? Cloudy, with a chance of hail. But wait – if I hadn’t gone down the islands last weekend, my lady-grooming routine would have taken AGES… especially since I had to go all the way to President’s Inn to get ready. I never would have made it to the boat on time.

Plus, there are WAY worse places for a lone, bikini-and-shorts-clad woman to get a flat tyre than right opposite a bunch of armed, admittedly suspicious but honest and upstanding soldiers. I’d been SAFE all along!

Also, if we’d had water at home that morning, I wouldn’t have my toothbrush, clean undies, shower gel, an extra towel… everything I needed for an unexpected overnight stay at the guest house!

The day wasn’t perfect, but it could easily have been so much worse. That’s the thing about silver linings – you find them IN CLOUDS! I realise today how LUCKY I was yesterday. I feel like I OWNED that day. I vaulted every hurdle with as much grace as humanly possible. I didn’t cry. I wasn’t a victim. I even had fun. I’m so proud of myself.

It can be hard to remember, when a huge grey cloud is about to swallow you whole – but if you live to tell the tale, there probably WAS a silver lining in there. The trick is to keep your eyes wide open and your feet on the ground. Be patient and be PRESENT. Forget this media-manufactured idea that every day should be sunny – a wise man once said to me that if there was never any rain, nothing would grow!Β  Power through your clouds – but not too fast! If we keep putting our happiness on pause, waiting for clear skies, we might entirely miss an important life lesson; happiness isn’t on the other side… it’s on the INSIDE.

xo

J.

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