Insight For The Modern Man

Ed Aponte
Columnist

In Spanish, con means with and in literary theory text means any object that can be read.  However, in MDI, context is generally defined as a way of being.  How I am when everything hits the fan.  That been said I have chosen to do a bi-monthly column titled CONtext (With text).  Since it’s an a column I thought the double meaning was witty.  Probably not, but oh well.  The purpose of this column will be for me to reveal how context shows up in my life and the consequences of it.  Here’s this month’s column:

I’m a creature of habit.  I tend to go to bed earlier than most and in turn get up early as well.  This past Saturday night was a different story.  I stayed up way too late catching up with friends and so I only got four hours of sleep.  As you can imagine I woke up not at my best.  I felt as though I had just winked and the alarm had gone off.  Like they say no rest for the wicked.

I got up and went through my usual Sunday routine to go pick my children up and head to church.  After I put my dog Bella away I gathered my belongings and jumped in my Jeep to hit the road.  This is a routine that has become like breathing.  Not much brain matter gets involved in the process of backing up my car.  So much that I feel like I can do other stuff while I’m doing it.  Like a pilot going through a flight check while his plane is getting pushed back.  Except I’m not a pilot and this is a Jeep Wrangler backing up from a garage.  The wise thing would have been for me to pay attention, specially since I had very little sleep the night before.

Oh well, not today, I started backing it out of the garage while at the same time going through the receipts I had left in the glove box.  Not realizing that I had inadvertently hit the garage door clicker causing the door to close damn near on top of the windshield of my car.  A normal car would’ve tripped the sensor on the door but lucky for me I have a lift on the Jeep that makes the sensors worthless.  Luckily I was able to reverse it without much of any damage done to the car but tweaking the garage door opener and it’s track.

I am a creature of habit.  My Sunday routine has a very clear time table.  I leave at a specific time to be early enough at the pick up point so that the mom of my kids doesn’t have to wait on me.  Be early, right?  But over time I have realized that if it only takes 20 minutes to get there.  So I leave 30 minutes early and get there with 10 minutes to spare.  Not today, NOT TODAY!!!  Now I have to fix this garage door fiasco and get the everything secured enough and not be late to pick the kids up and subsequently late for church.

My context at this point was, the Universe is against me today!  And so I was finding what i was looking for.  I called Rosie and told her I was going to be late rather sarcastically which sounded like I was just being prickish to her.  I finally got the door disentangled and somewhat secured enough so that I could leave to get them.  Now I’m 15 minutes late arriving to pick up my kids with hands full of chain grease.  Not at all happy.  So everyone from my children to their mom got to be the recipients of my unhappiness.  My context was spilling over to everyone I came in contact with.

I have had the great privilege of volunteering as an usher at my church for a very long time.  It’s just another opportunity to serve and connect with people.  Like what we do at MDI.  I am known for being bright and cheery to all that come in the door but today I felt like I was better off going back home and going back to bed.  Our team always has breakfast together before the service.  We normally go over announcements and prayer requests then head into the auditorium to greet our guests.

So there I am, in a foul mood, thinking the world is against me today.  Stewing over a cup of coffee and a egg and bacon bagel.  The Director of Guest Services walks in and goes to the front of the room.  The room goes quiet and she says she would like to give out two awards today for exceptional service to our church.  Next she looks right at me a mentions my name to the group.  With a mouth full of egg and bacon I look at her in disbelief.  She then proceeds to go on for five minutes about all the work I’ve done at the church and how she wanted to recognize me for it.  She presented me with the award, gave me a hug and thanked me.

Now, the garage door and being late seemed like such a distant memory.  All of the sudden I was smiling and receiving congratulations and high fives from my peers.

How can this be?  I was still the same guy, wearing the same clothes, with the same problem, with a garage door that still needed to be mended.

I realized that my context had shifted to one of gratitude and thus I no longer perceived the world as being against me but instead for me.  Event + Reaction = Outcome.  I could’ve chosen a context of gratitude when the garage door thing happened and maybe then I would’ve had a better time from that point going forward.

There’s no great fix here.  I’m sure I’ll slip again down the road but being aware through writing this column will make sure that I’m present to the context I hold in my life.