“Doctor Foster went to Gloucester in a shower of rain. He stepped in a puddle right up to his muddle and never went there again.”
I was riding on a subway in downtown Toronto yesterday, and as I looked around me, I was reminded of a scene in Through the Looking Glass in which Alice and all of the characters are riding on a train carrying big tickets indicating the path of their journey. The car was quite crowded and everywhere I looked there were people gathered together in small groups talking in a variety of foreign languages.
This might not seem that remarkable in itself, but it struck me how much Toronto, and indeed the typical human experience have changed over the last fifty years. Where it was once considered adventurous to move to a neighbouring city or across a country to find your life; people now think nothing of moving to the other side of the world to find a place to call home.
As I sat there, I wondered what it was that had brought me and the girl in the emerald green outfit from Pakistan, and the Russian in the mini skirt and boots and the two girls from the Philippines together at that instant in the darkness of the tunnel.
And I realized something – no matter where you go, or where you are from, or what you are doing, every single thing you do and all of the people that you meet are part of your journey and they become part of your story. From this perspective, there are no bad experiences, or bad days – only days in which you either learned a lot or learned a little.
Each time that you actually “learn something” from an experience, you can prepare yourself to repeat it (if you liked it) or avoid it in the future. Bad experiences only repeat themselves when we fail to learn the first time (or when we secretly crave the drama of the bad experience and are in denial about it).
By this reckoning, having a really bad experience would simply mean that you had been craving more of this sort of encounter for some unconscious reason. The best thing you can do is ask yourself three simple questions: how did I get myself into this mess? What is it that I did not want to see that would have enabled me to prevent this? Am I really going to put myself through this again?
Your answers might just surprise you.