Don't Trust the Process, Do This Instead
Michael: "What do you think I should do?"
Passport agency: "The computer tells me to tell you that you don't need an appointment, so maybe you should trust the process."
Michael: "Yes, I understand, but can I pay for an expedited return?"
When he returned from Italy right before the New Year, he had seven weeks before his cycling trip to Mallorca. It was an open window to renew his soon-to-be-expired passport, and the agency's website said he should be fine.
A little over a week before his trip, he was getting a little nervous, so he called the agency and shared his first-world problem with them, but they said everything was good. No need to schedule an appointment; trust the process.
That weekend, he was cautiously "trusting the process" until Tuesday. He called again about an appointment and discovered that Chicago was the closest location.
Chicago?!? He was pretty sure this wasn't part of his process.
"Well, it sounds like I'm screwed," he said.
Then, the agent said without empathy, "Is there anything else I can help you with today?"
This was one of those real-life pause breathe reflect moments that he talks about, and he started to think Chicago wasn't that crazy - he had frequent flyer miles that he could cash in. He can do hard things!
He called back and got Jim on the phone. He told Michael that Chicago was full, but said, "Stay with me on the phone because someone might cancel."
And sure enough, someone did...in New Orleans.
"Ok, I'll take it," he said, but in a flash, it was gone. The same happened when Denver, Puerto Rico, and New York opened.
Michael was starting to think his process was going nowhere, and then Washington, D.C., opened up for Thursday at 8 am. Yay, Jim!
By 8:05 on the 23rd, Michael was speaking with Paula - we also like Paula. She was typing and making copies, and Michael was getting excited, and then she smiled.
He asked, "Why the smile?"
She said, "To mask my pain."
Paula, "Did you pay for an expedited return?"
Paula, "What time is your flight?
Michael: 10 pm tonight
Paula: "Well, your passport will be at your home by noon. You'll need to stay here until 12:30; we will print your passport here if it doesn't come. If it comes sooner, then head home."
By 10:30, yay, UPS, Michael was speeding back to New Jersey.
While waiting for his flight, he wondered who created this "trusting the process" thing, so he went to Ecosia.
One post talked about how it means to know and have faith that a divine plan is moving through you and your life at any moment. It didn't speak to him because it made him feel like a puppet on a predefined journey.
Then, he learned that the 76ers from the NBA tried to trademark it. They adopted it as their mantra in 2013 but haven't won anything in years. Not a good process, just sayin'.
At this point, he stopped searching and began to look for food, which made him think about cooking, and that made him think about recipes. Then it dawned on him that the definitions of recipe and process are similar.
A great chef knows how to take a recipe and make it better. With a pinch of this or that mixed with creativity and inspiration and the wisdom to know when to let things breathe and when to watch them closely, she can create a mind-blowing experience.
A great chef doesn't just trust the process; a great chef shapes it.
It's a lot like life because we have agency. Yes, we can't control everything, but we do a choice in how we show up and the ripple we put into the world. Through mindfulness, we can learn when to let things breathe and when to tweak things from time to time.
A huge shout-out to Paula and Jim. They usually talk to people with urgent issues and gracefully handled my situation. Michael is so happy that they shaped his process and helped him get to Mallorca.
P.S., Michael created a meditation for moments like this that isn't on our app, but it's on Youtube. It's spicy, and we hope it makes you smile. You'll like it even if you don't like meditation.