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Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

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Sometimes the Best Gifts Don’t Come Gift Wrapped

Sometimes the Best Gifts Don’t Come Gift Wrapped

In the spirit of the August edition of Cape Fear Voices and The Teen Scene, and of my own birthday (August 7), here is an inspirational story themed after a line in my book “Chuck’s Lemonade, A Recipe for Inspired Thinking and Living.” The line is “Sometimes the Best Gifts Don’t Come Gift Wrapped.” The story was recently the basis of a post I shared on my Chuck’s Lemonade Blog. 

Take what you get and make the best of your life.
Do you ever expect less and accept more? 
Do you ever take what you get and consider that it may be a gift?

Years ago, when I was much younger and living in New York, commuting in heavy traffic was an everyday occurrence. No matter how much time you left yourself, it never seemed to be enough. Being late was common. I hated being late.

One day traffic was especially heavy. I was late for my meeting, and every second sitting there in the traffic was eating at me. Technology back then wasn’t what it is today. Ideas and thoughts were racing through my head. I wanted to write them down or tell someone before I forgot them, but my hands were tight on the wheel, trying to keep me and my car away from the millions of other vehicles driving in the traffic. The time was passing me by, and I was becoming later by the second — and I couldn’t do anything about it. Then, just as I began to pick up a little speed, it happened. I saw the yellow traffic signal ahead of me, and I wasn’t going to make it through it. Then red. I thought something like, “well isn’t this great, now I will be even later.”

But that moment, I also realized that the red light gave me an opportunity to write down my ideas and thoughts and even to take a moment to breathe, just breathe. 

Many years later, I came to realize that the red light was a gift. A gift of a moment of calm in the middle of the chaos. A moment of peace. A moment of serenity. Who knows, but that red light may have just saved my life. That red light was a gift!

Sometimes the best gifts don’t come gift wrapped.

Thankfully today, I no longer deal with traffic since now I live and work from home on beautiful Hilton Head Island. But on occasion, if I am traveling for work or visiting family or friends, I now see life (and traffic) through very different eyes.

Today’s eyes. Today’s eyes live life more gracefully. Today’s eyes expect less and accept more. Today’s eyes take what I get and make the best of life more.

Today’s eyes know a gift when they see one. Think about it.

* Chuck Schwartz is the author of “Chuck’s Lemonade, A Recipe for Inspired Thinking and Living” and The Chuck’s Lemonade Collection of inspirational books, journals, presentations, and more, all designed to help you think better so you can live better. 

Visit and subscribe to receive a daily dose of Chuck’s Lemonade.

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