I just returned from a wonderful vacation in Alaska. I went to Africa last summer so I guess I am covering every country in the world alphabetically. But does this mean I will be going to Afghanistan next summer? I’d rather go to Amsterdam or Albuquerque!
But what struck me about this amazing trip was what I could and couldn’t do and how we felt about it.
I took my first cruise about 20 years ago from New York to Bermuda and I was thrilled that I could get around on the ship and there were people to help me with my food. There were no exciting excursions so everything was perfect.
About 10 years ago I went to the Panama Canal and I was frustrated because there were so many exciting excursions that I could not go on. They were able to arrange individual tours for me, but they were very expensive. Nevertheless, I had a great time.
Then about 6 years ago I went on another cruise and I could hardly go on any excursions. And although I was still happy to be on the beautiful ship with great scenery, I was even more frustrated.
On this cruise, I still could not get on most of the excursions. Nevertheless I was so very happy with the few I could go on and didn’t spend much time thinking about what I couldn’t do. This cruise was one of the best I’ve taken. And why? Of course the scenery was gorgeous, but I had been to Alaska before. Sure, part of it was that I was with someone I love. But I think a large part was the phrase “thinking about what I couldn’t do”.
It reminded me of a conversation I had with my father several years before he died. He would often repeat that he was ready to leave this life even though he was physically healthy and had a pretty good life at the time. Finally I asked him if he was really ready to die. He said that he was on “some days”. I asked him about those days and he told me that on the days he wanted to die, all he could do was think about his daughter who had died, his son in a wheelchair and his wife who had recently died: “those days I am ready to die.”
Curious, I said “but dad, those things are true every day. So what about the days you aren’t ready to die?” Oh that was a simple answer: “those days I’m not thinking about those things, I’m more likely to be thinking about what I’m having for lunch!”
It’s all about how we think about it, not how it is.