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Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli

A few weeks back I had a one day trip in and out of New York City. My schedule for the day was packed, but even with a layover the day was set to flow perfectly as long as things worked out exactly as scheduled. However, a crazy cabbie and a busted up cab whose hood had flown open and splintered the windshield in a dozen directions while we were flying down the highway, along with a near stranding on the side of the Long Island Expressway by the aforementioned crazy cabbie… well, those things all laughed in the face of my perfectly planned day.

And as I write this, I am just getting back from another perfectly planned schedule—after I finished a presentation at a conference in North Dakota yesterday, I was scheduled to make a flight that left just enough time to catch the last connection of the night to Indianapolis out of Minnesota. Except the plane in North Dakota was broken, seriously broken, and got delayed by two hours, irrevocably erasing any chance of getting home as scheduled. My bag, ironically, did find its way home as scheduled somehow, so I found myself stuck in North Dakota without a way home or a bag.

This morning in day-old clothes and looking a fright, I got on a 5 am flight out of North Dakota and thought to myself: you know, I think the universe might be trying to tell me something here.

When determined to show the universe just how in CONTROL we are of our lives, the universe will often step in to remind us otherwise. “Dear, sweet child,” the universe says with a patronizing grin, “did you forget just who is in charge here?”

Yes, universe, you. Always you.

It reminds me of one of my favorite “Calvin and Hobbes” comics, where Calvin is holding a watering can over a flower, delighting in his power to either feed the flower or not, taunting the flower that he is the one who controls the flower’s fate… when it starts to rain.

I know this, of course, but I am once again struck by the notion that you just can’t control it, this life, and that whatever “hold” we have (on loved ones, our jobs, our homes, our health) is both precious and precarious.  Things change, over time or in an instant, in ways that we cannot predict or prevent. And it’s often just in the moment we say “I’ve TOTALLY got this under control” that things shift—either slightly or drastically—just to remind us that no, in fact, we do not.  And maybe we’re not meant to.

And also, when we add the words ‘perfectly planned’ to any scenario it automatically dooms it from happening.

Can you let go of control...even just a little?    

(I recognize that this is really just another take on There Is No There There, so clearly the universe is really, really trying to get me to pay attention.)


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Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.