On the night before I was scheduled to head out of town on a four day trip, I was quietly reading in bed when I heard a strange gurgling sound coming from the bathroom. Further investigation revealed that the water in the toilet bowl was looking like a volcano about to erupt.
Since my plumbing skills are nonexistent, I decided to flush it and see if that solved the problem. Moments later, water was flooding the floor and I was bailing water and mopping up with a towel.
I shut the water intake valve off, but spent the next couple of hours fretting when I should have been snoozing.
What if the toilet erupted while I was away? Would I flood my downstairs neighbors in the condo below mine? Would I return to a home in shambles?
On Friday morning I headed to the airport still carrying trepidation along with my luggage. Later in the day, my daughter sent me an e-mail assuring me all was well (or, more literally, all was dry). I relaxed a bit.
My attention shifted to teaching the liveliest seminars I could to three groups of students in Sacramento. When I shared my mini-disaster, I got all sorts of advice on dealing with my plumbing problem.
Early on Sunday morning, I headed to Las Vegas to meet up with the folks from International Living. They were running a Fast-Track Your Retirement Overseas Conference where 600 people were investigating what it would take to live abroad.
Since I have no plans to retire either here or abroad, I wasn’t there as a participant. I had come at the invitation of International Living publisher Jackie Flynn to discuss a product they’ll be launching in the new year.
On Sunday evening, I shared dinner and ideas with Jackie and her writing team. I went back to my room feeling quite excited about their new project.
Monday morning I woke up and had two e-mail messages that took me by surprise. The first was from Southwest Airlines alerting me to a delay in my late afternoon flight back to California.
The second was from my long time online merchant provider announcing that they were closing down shop at the end of the year.
I shared my bad news with my Facebook friends and promptly began receiving messages of encouragement. Once again, the dark cloud lifted quickly.
The truth was that neither the bad news nor my overflowing toilet is what I’ll remember from this journey.
In fact, there were so many delightful moments in these four days that when I recall the trip, the first things that come to mind will be the fun I had spending time with my friend Judy Miranda in Sacramento.
I’ll also think about meeting Facebook friend Lisa Montanaro for the first time and the engaging participants that showed up for my seminars.
And I don’t think I’ll ever forget the view from my room at Red Rocks Resort with the full moon shining down over the lights of Las Vegas.
Or the joyful time I had brainstorming with the International Living team.
After our meeting Monday morning, I headed to the airport although my delayed flight was hours away. I went to the Southwest ticket counter, asked if I could be put on an earlier flight and a few minutes later was heading home.
“Is there a charge?” I asked the ticket agent.
“Not from me,” she replied (just in case I needed another reason to love that airline).
This little outing reminded me, once again, that building a business isn’t about living in a total and continuous state of bliss. Anyone expecting such a thing won’t be in business very long.
On the other hand, on those days when you wonder if all the annoyances, distractions and disappointments are worth it, remind yourself of this observation from Paulo Coehlo:
Too often we decide to follow a path that is not really our own, one that others have set for us. We forget that whichever way we go the price is always the same: in both cases we will pass through difficult and happy moments.
But when we are living our dreams, the difficulties we encounter make sense.