It had been an afternoon of mundane errands – the bike repair shop, haircuts, the pharmacy – and my six-year-old was ready to be outside of the car and back at home.

We pulled close to our neighborhood, only to realize a delay was awaiting us, courtesy of a train coming across the railroad tracks and blocking our path.

My kiddo vented his frustration mostly to himself, almost under his breath, amidst the song on the stereo:

“Ugh,” he sighed. “Why can’t cars fly?”

I had to laugh and admire the sentiment. But more so, I like his attitude. In that silly moment, I took away a direct lesson on approaching some of the more metaphorical “trains” I am facing in my life.

  1. He wasn’t limited in his problem-solving.

He didn’t say, “I wish cars could fly.” The phrasing he used belies a belief that if the car just tried harder it might lift off the ground. While not true in this case, there is something to be said for exploring alternate methods and outlandish possibilities before admitting defeat. Too often we just accept our fate instead of looking for alternate options.

  1. He wasn’t blaming the obstacle.

My first thought when we saw the traffic was “STUPID TRAIN.” But the child wasn’t going to be a victim. The train was doing it’s thing. He just wanted to find a way to be less affected by it. Sometimes we choose to be blocked because it is easier than going around what is blocking us.

  1. He celebrated the victory.

When the caboose rattled by, there was an exclamation from the backseat. The obstacle had been removed. The car didn’t fly. We had been passive and patient. We merely waited it out – but what we wanted had been achieved. Sometimes our issues get resolved without or despite us. It is still a win. Don’t be so selfish that a victory that happens around you instead of because of you isn’t counted a success.

Life comes with trains. Cars don’t fly. Sometimes we might be powerless. But don’t assume. Don’t count yourself a victim. And don’t forget to be happy when the worst is over.

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