First of all I’d like to share an experience with you when it’s OKAY to say NO! About a month ago I was presented with a wonderful opportunity to showcase my photography as part of a two-person show at a prestigious San Francisco hotel. The theme of the show was sailing on the Bay and I was going to present a few of my photographs and all of my books. I was really excited and looking forward to it.
As the proposed dates for the event approached, I requested confirmation from the organizer on more than one occasion, and then finally received it last week. We agreed to meet last Thursday to discuss details. Well, let’s just say the meeting didn’t go as I had hoped. The organizer requested I submit 10 canvas pieces of my photography along with my books. Well, I knew that would be difficult with only a week until the exhibit. I had originally agreed to five pieces and knew that would even be tough with the time-frame allotted. After our meeting I went to my printer to see what could be done and was told the same thing, VERY tight and not sure it could happen.
Frustrated by the lack of organization and how things were now being rushed, I decided to take a step back and really look at this opportunity from a new perspective. YES, this was a wonderful opportunity, but was it absolutely necessary for me to take part? I already had my plate full with launching the new book and my America’s Cup responsibilities, not to mention trying to keep a roof over my head. After taking time to really look at what was being presented, I decided to say NO! When I do things, I want to do them right. I want to present my best work. I don’t want to throw something together simply because of the prestige. I knew in my gut I needed to walk away, and that is what I did, and I don’t regret it. Another opportunity may come along, it may not, but for now, this was what I needed to do.
All accommodations throughout San Francisco last weekend were booked as a number of events were taking place. I knew I would need to look elsewhere to sleep, so I headed to the South Bay. I had sold a few books so I was able to get decent accommodations for Friday and Saturday night. I woke Sunday morning and called a taxi to take me to the Caltrain station where I was to catch the train back to San Francisco. I literally had $15.00 to my name and I knew the taxi ride to the hotel was only $13.00 so I wasn’t worried. My surprise came when we arrived at the station and the meter showed nearly $17.00. I had asked the driver ahead of time and was assured it was no more than $15.00. When I handed him the bills he became very agitated. As he lifted my suitcase from the truck he yelled at me and told said, “You people spend all your money on all these things and then don’t give us any!” I was dumbfounded. I couldn’t believe he was being so rude. I apologized and left, if not a bit shaken.
I boarded the train to San Francisco and placed my suitcase and bags (all of my worldly possessions) on the seat next to me. As the train stopped at stations closer to San Francisco I noticed there were droves of people all decked out in their orange and black attire going to the Giants baseball game. The train soon became full, but the conductor announced there were seats available up in the front.
I was approached by a woman who asked if I could move my bags to open up a seat and I told her that they had just announced available seating up front. Next thing I know this man approaches me and asks if I could move my bags. Once again I told him the same to which he replied, “There are no seats.” He then went on to berate me even saying he didn’t know how I slept at night. If he only knew. If that weren’t enough, he then came back after storming off and took a photo of me with his phone to which I suppose he would plaster all over the internet showing the world what a horrible person I was. I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing.
So here is where the Four Agreements come into play. If you’re not familiar with Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, The Four Agreements, it’s quite good. Ironically, I had just attended an event in Sausalito the prior weekend that focused on this particular book. So it seemed appropriate I would come in contact with these individuals and these situations. The Four Agreements are:
- Be impeccable with your word
- Don’t take anything personally
- Don’t make assumptions
- Always do your best
As I sat on the train in deliberation of what had just happened, these two back to back incidences, I began to reflect on these agreements. The one that jumped out at me was number three – Don’t make assumptions. The taxi driver assumed I had tons of money to spend and just didn’t feel like giving any to him. Little did he know I was handing him my last $15.00. The guy on the train assumed I was just a rude person and he was determined to let the world know what I had done. What he didn’t realize was that I didn’t want to part with my bags on a crowded train because my livelihood was contained in those bags.
I was near tears when I said to myself….”Cali, you have a choice on how you react to this”, and that is when I thought of the second agreement – Don’t take anything personally. I had no idea what was going on in the lives of these people. They felt the need to lash out and unfortunately I was their target. I sat up, wiped my eyes and said to myself,”The rest of the day is going to be FABULOUS!”, and it was. I met up with a new friend in the city who introduced me to her two friends and I got to play tour guide and show them all around my beloved Sausalito. They were so happy when we said our goodbyes, and my new friend offered me a house-sitting gig for this week, which I am so grateful for.
This is what life is all about. Things are going to happen. It’s just a matter of how you react to it. I could have just sunk down in my seat and played victim and allow these individuals to take away my power, but I now know better. I am a good person and judging others is such a waste of time. I live each day the best way I know how. I’m far from perfect, but I do my best and that for me is enough.