It was approaching sunset last night and I was already tired of sofa-sitting and longed for something more substantial to end the day with.

Following the wonderful previous evening I had with my low-tide friends, I sought a return to the highs, only for the day to fail to deliver and slump into an anti-climax.

Lighting would be the answer, so I looked through the phone’s weather app to see what was in the area. I convinced myself that the stormy clouds passing through the area right after sunset would be my best bet.

So, I hopped in the car and drove downtown Lakeland.

Before I left the driveway, I sensed that this was, generally speaking, a losing decision. It was raining and the whole drive there was just rain too.

I pulled into the parking lot over at Hollis Gardens, just off the downtown strip and it was still raining.

I stepped out of the car and realized this rain was here to stay and it wasn’t even “exciting” rain that might carry with it some lightning or interesting clouds. So, I got back in my car and checked the weather app again.

Even though I was looking at the exact same information as I saw back on my sofa, I came to the conclusion that the only lighting around was likely inside my head.

A passing car gave me a wet-street idea so I took the camera out of its dry home and rattled off a few shots as a few more cars drove by. But then I climbed back in my car and drove home. Here is the one shot that is worth sharing. It is pretty but nowhere remotely close to what I went out looking for.

Disconsolate with the evening, I decided an Oreo McFlurry would make the outside adventure worthwhile so I pulled in to a McDonalds on the way home. Waited patiently in a long line at the drive through only to be told that they couldn’t make any McFlurries as their ice cream machine was broken.

A couple of expletives later, I was back on my way home and lost in thought.

I reflected more on my decisions than on the evening itself. I wasn’t disappointed with the rain or lack of lightning. I wasn’t even disappointed with the lack of a McFlurry … my waistline doesn’t really need another one of those.

No, I was more concerned and disappointed with my decision process itself. On two separate instances I looked at the same information on that weather app and came to different decisions. It boiled down to deciding a course of action based on a “want” and another based on reality.

Many decisions we make in life are based on the outcome we want and this is a totally human flaw and completely understandable. When reality hits us, we often regret the decision or simply adjust and move on.

So, this blog isn’t really about the decision, but rather about how I reflected on it.

Reflection is part of our learning process. It is a key ingredient in how we analyze successes and failures and learn from the course of action involved.

If we are good at it, we look at the factors that contributed to our choice and make a mental note to watch out for that same instance later on in life.

Reflection though always has the benefit of 20/20 hindsight. We see clearly how the result of our decisions have played out. So, second guessing without acknowledging that, can lead to regret and recrimination.

This is akin to watching a later airing of a soccer game where you know your team already lost 2-0. How can you watch it and then get upset or disappointed that they lose?

Knowing the outcome in advance would make every decision better but life would probably get very boring very quickly if all our decisions were right. As I have realized many times before, it is from life’s mistakes and bad decisions that we learn most.

So when we reflect on anything in our lives that didn’t work out as planned, it is always good to adopt a more impartial or objective viewpoint. One that is no longer clouded in the want or hope of the actual decision itself.

Reflection like this is analytical and clean and most likely to produce a fair review of what went wrong.

For me, last night, I allowed the want in me to overcome the information that was clearly available in my app. There was a big green swathe of rain showing on the radar map all around Lakeland and a dog with a mallet up his ass could have forecast that was not going to produce lighting. Even if orange or red and producing lighting, I would have been unable to shoot it because I would have been right in it and not distant enough for the shot.

Cup of coffee in hand, that fact is self-evident this morning. Sitting on a sofa, looking for a high last night, it apparently wasn’t.

So, no, I don’t regret my outdoor adventure last night. It didn’t produce a lightning strike image or a soothing McFlurry but I did get off the sofa and I did get that one nice reflective picture. And more importantly I learned to watch out for decisions based on want.

More often in life we don’t get what we want. But if we are lucky, we get what we need.

It’s only 7 in the morning, but I feel a need for a McFlurry … damn!

… just a thought!