A Lesson in Perspective

January 25, 2022
The morning started out like any other Tuesday – sort of. After all, it was CONCERT DAY and I woke up with a mix of excitement and anticipation. Having gone to sleep early the night before, I was also up early – about 6 am local time. As such, I was the first one in the breakfast area. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that breakfast was pancakes and sausage! (and, a banana wrapped in plastic wrap?!)

One of the reasons I enjoy the convenience of staying as close to the venue as possible is because I like to go for a walk – I could already feel the excited/nervous energy building up so I decided to take a walk to the venue. I love seeing the sights and the expectation of adventure. The American Airlines Arena was a short walk from the hotel, the weather was cold but sunny and I was ready to get outside!

It wasn’t until I got back to the hotel that I got the news – first, an alert from Ticketmaster that showed the time/date of the concert as TBA. My first thought was that this must have been for another concert that I had tickets to – I honestly didn’t think right at that moment that the alert was for the concert I was to attend later that evening.

A quick click over to the American Airline Arena website confirmed it.
Elton had COVID and was canceling BOTH concerts I was to attend.

I’ve attended 47 concerts in the last 30 years and this has NEVER happened. I wasn’t quite sure what to do but my mind immediately went into an “action plan” mode –
I contacted my concert-friend Brett, he had driven in from Florida the day before, to let him know and also because I remembered him telling me he was picking up another friend at the airport – luckily, Brett was able to contact her right away and she did not get on her flight. But she knew another friend who was flying in and she was on the plane when she got the news that the concerts were canceled. Fortunately, she was able to get off the plane and not make the trip.
I had previously arranged to meet up with my friend Ronei for lunch and I decided to go wait in the lobby for her. Although I was scrolling through social media on my phone, I was also acutely aware of what was happening around me. There were other people in the lobby and I noticed an older couple arrive at check-in. The man asked the front desk clerk for information about getting to the venue for the concert. As the clerk was explaining it to him, there were two ladies who spoke up – “The concert tonight is canceled.” The man turned to face the ladies and said, “You have got to be <expletive> me!” At that point, I spoke up and said, “no, it’s true, I’m here for the concerts, too”. For a moment, we all just looked at each other.
It was a moment of solidarity in a way, we were all different people and yet, found ourselves in the exact situation. This, “what do we do now?” kind of moment.

The man turned to his wife and said, “hand me the phone” and proceeded to contact his airline – they were going to forego checking in to the hotel and fly back home. I think he told me they had come in from Detroit. I went back to sitting on the couch and at that moment, thought that I should check about going home early too. A quick click through the app revealed that I would have to pay over $200 to change my flight. I opted to wait and call the airline later. Maybe a real person who could maybe help me more than clicking through the app.

Ronei arrived to pick me up for our lunch and we went to ShakeShack where I had something new – a hamburger with avocado on it! Specifically, it was the Advocado Bacon Burger. So yummy! Although Ronei and I keep in touch through social media, there’s just something different about sitting across the table from each other, sharing a meal, having a conversation.

After lunch, I arrived back at the hotel and I knew I needed a plan – I started with a plan for dinner. I had planned to meet up with concert friends at the concert Tuesday night anyway so we opted to meet up for dinner at a local Barbeque Place – Sonny’s. Dinner was me, Brett, Holli, and her husband – this was my first time meeting Holli. I had known her through an Elton John fan club but hadn’t met her in person. And, in case you are wondering, what a bunch of Elton fans talks about over dinner – Elton concerts, of course! Among the four of us, we had attended over 100 concerts so there’s LOTS of conversation around our first concerts, our favorite concert, different concert experiences, and future concerts we all may meet up at. Even though it wasn’t a “night at the concert”, it was still a great time and my first lesson in some perspective – we wouldn’t have all gathered for dinner had the show gone on as planned.

When I arrived back at the hotel, I noticed a group of people sitting around the bar. The hotel bar was a bit small so there were maybe ten people. I decided that those people MUST have had plans to go to the concert so I walked over and said, “Is this the Elton John concert commiseration group?” To which most of them replied, “YES!”. Introductions revealed people had come from Alaska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, a town 250 miles away, and Los Angeles. For each person, it was to be their very first concert. Inevitably, they ask me if it was to be my first concert too –

I’ve learned to pause when I tell people how many concerts I have attended to date: It’s very ordinary sounding to me to tell people “This would have been my 48th and 49th concerts” but I realize that this is an extraordinary statement for people to hear. Then, I have to repeat it and tell people it’s been 47 concerts in 30 years. In that moment of talking to these fellow fans, I felt especially sad that this was to be their very first concert and they missed it.

Again, with the lesson in perspective. I had decided almost immediately after receiving the news that morning about the concerts being canceled that I wasn’t going to be mad. Disappointed yes, but not mad. Because I know that Elton and his people did not make this decision lightly. I know that if Elton felt like he could put on the show, he would have. I know that there are just some things that happen beyond our control that force decisions we don’t want to make. This was NOT the first concert I was missing out on. Sure, it was the first concert in over two years, but still. I’ve had 47 Elton John concert experiences and I have tickets for several more concerts throughout this year.

After chatting with my “new friends at the bar” for a while, I headed up to my room to go to bed. While scrolling through Facebook, I saw these three posts that really resonated with me:

This was my final lesson in perspective – the reminder that I needed to remember. You see, as a person of faith, I do believe that social media can be a great source of seeing what you need to see or read at just the moment you need it. I do not find it coincidental that these three things showed up in my news feed on the day that I received the most disappointing news. Even this trip, which did not go as planned, I recognize the God moments. I recognize that God knew what was happening and I recognize that it was indeed my faith that helped me process through the feelings of disappointment and anger – AND, then almost immediately choosing to not BE mad and angry.
I DID see the goodness of the Lord in this trip. I WAS reminded of the goodness of God. And yes, I will still choose to wake up every morning and pursue ( I don’t use the word chase) the dream. I went to sleep with a peaceful heart. Knowing that God’s plans are better than mine (or Elton’s!) and that tomorrow will bring NEW adventures.