The first week back in Canada was complicated:
1. The weather was particularly bad, with two snowdays in one week. I agonized over meeting with my supervisor after 6 months away. Then 2 hours before the meeting the university was closed because of the snowstorm. The meeting was thus postponed to the following week, which gave me another 5 days to agonize over it.
2. My winter clothes were in a box in a garage in a lovely house outside of Hampton outside of Oshawa outside of Toronto. In my obsession with planning and organizing, I had neglected to make arrangements with my lovely friend who so had been so kind to store my stuff. It turned out that the week I arrived, she was in the US skiing with her family.
3. Because of the acne medication, my skin reacted very badly to the weather, and to the new boots I bought because of item 2. I bought tons of skin lotions, but instead of soothing my skin, they seem to flare it up some more. In the meantime, friends complimented me on my “tan.” Eventually I just got tired of explaining that it was a reaction to the cold, and just started smiling and accepting the compliment.
4. When my friend came back, I went to see her, and took the oportunity to go to her garage and filter through my boxes, selecting items that I needed most. I couldn’t carry them all back with me to Toronto, but at least I got the most urgent items first (including my old boots, since my feet were killing me), and packed a couple of suitcases for her to bring me next time she drove to town. Turned out that the boxes, the books, the cold, the dust, the exercise triggered my allergies, and I spent the following two days in bed with a bad sinus reaction.
5. When the opportunity came for my friend to drive to town with the extra-heavy suitcases I had packed (she usually takes the GO train, which is faster, cheaper and more practical), a heavy snowstorm made her turn around after four hours in the highway. So my suitcases monopolized the trunk of her car for a few more days, which made me feel super embarrassed for all the inconvenience I was causing.
6. In the middle of all this, while I was still recovering from the sinus, there was a minor flood in the house where I’m staying, which caused me to be even more embarrassed. As I tried to explain to my friend afterwards, when everything was back under control but I still could not stop apologizing and feeling terrible, she said something that really made me think: “Ester, stop apologizing, everything’s fine, nothing else you could have done. Besides, stuff is just stuff. People are important, not things.”
People are important, not things. And it was at this point that I took the deliberate decision of stop worrying so much about things that are not under my control (see items 1-6). Part of the difficulty was that my skin was irritated and that made me irritated. So I just stopped taking the acne medication, and that has taken care of that problem. The weather has improved. My friend managed to bring me my boxes from Oshawa. The sinus have healed. The new winter clothes look good (though I don’t know what will become of them once I return to Brazil). I’ve met the supervisor and now have to meet the rest of the committee, which is never pleasant, but I’m trying to think of it as a a dentist appointment — nobody enjoys it, but most people survive. (Of course, anesthetics make the whole thing much less unpleasant. But it’s a morning meeting, and maybe it wouldn’t look good if I had a drink before the meeting).
As Bob McFerrin would say:
“In every life there’s some trouble.
When you worry you make it double.
So don’t worry, be happy”
Now, that’s some advice!