Everything will be okay in the end. If it is not okay, it is not the end!
~”Sonny” (Dev Patel) in the movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
This quote seems naive or overly simplistic on first hearing, but the more I’ve thought about it, the more I think it’s probably a good lens through which to view our day-to-day challenges. We’ve all been through difficult times, and sometimes those difficulties seem to go on and on, but the truth is, we do eventually come out on the other side, and most of the time we’re okay. Perhaps a little older or sadder—and, with any luck, wiser—but more or less in one piece.
I went to see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel on Memorial Day, and Sonny’s optimistic philosophy serves as an underlying theme of this lovely, charming film. As is the case with most movies, the characters ultimately resolve their individual challenges by the end, although not necessarily in ways they might have expected. There is a lesson in this: we are often so intent on things working out a particular way that we fail to see other possibilities or solutions that might be even better than what we had in mind. We’re so narrowly focused that we don’t recognize that our knotty problems might become “okay” if we open our minds a little and approach them from a different angle.
When I first moved to Richmond, I rented a house in an older neighborhood that I’d specifically targeted for its collection of quaint bungalows and cottages. I signed a lease with an option to buy, but it turned out that the house had many problems, and the owner was unwilling to fix them or lower the price of the house, so I set out to find another house. I limited my search to the same neighborhood, which seemed perfectly logical—I was already living there, I liked my neighbors and the area, and I wanted to stay.
I looked at one house after another, and after a while I began to feel like Goldilocks. This one was too expensive, that one was too small, this one would require too many repairs, that one just didn’t feel right. The end of my lease was looming, and, frustrated, I finally gave up and began to focus my search on the only other neighborhood in the city that featured the style of house I wanted.
As you’ve probably guessed, I found a house almost immediately, and it couldn’t be more perfect. After four and a half years, it still makes me smile, and I love my neighbors and my neighborhood. It was a clear case of an unexpected solution being better than the one I thought I wanted.
There are other times in my life when things worked out in surprising ways, instances in which I did a lot of fretting because events weren’t unfolding as I wished. Even the situations that didn’t necessarily have “happy” endings usually resolved the best way they could have and often resulted in unanticipated blessings. So the next time I find myself grousing about how things are going, I’ll try to remember Sonny’s maxim and open my mind to all the many ways that everything might actually be “okay.”