Friday, August 16, 2013

Trying a New Perspective

by Tony Calabrese

As I write this post, I have returned from a week at the New Jersey shore. I have never much been a fan of the beach. My wife, on the other hand, absolutely loves everything about it, from the ocean, to walking along the shore line, to lying on the sand.

During our last beach vacation in the summer of 2012, I was convinced that I might not return to the beach in 2013.

Even though the week is an annual occurrence where members of her entire family rent houses, catch up with each other and look forward to its coming each year, it is a frustrating experience for me.

My wife and I agreed in 2012 that maybe it was best for me to stay home, and have her go and stay with one of her family members in upcoming years.

However, then something happened that changed my mind about that plan. In the fall of 2012, the New Jersey shore areas were devastated by the effects of Super Storm Sandy.

I remember shortly after it happened, seeing news reports of the impact on some of the very streets where we stay for our summer sojourn. It was then that I realized that perhaps I would return for the 2013 week long family outing.

While I had been frustrated, bored and feeling like if I had to do this type of vacation over and over again for years to come, it now occurred to me that perhaps I had taken for granted that it would always be that way.

Nature has a funny way of showing us that what we think will always be, is not necessarily so.

In mid-winter when it came time to pick out the house where we would stay for our week at the beach in 2013, my wife asked me was I really sure if I wanted to come. I assured her that I did. I certainly did not want to have her not experience what she enjoys very much.

On the other hand I explained to her, that part of my frustration was in that I felt I HAD to do everything she did at the beach, since it was a vacation we were taking together. We have only been doing the week long vacation to the beach since 2011.

In the summer of 2011 I realized I had spent the time entirely differently than in 2012. I did not go to the ocean every day. I actually did a couple of side things on my own, (prompted by my coaching activities).

The experience that summer was fresh for me, so I enjoyed it through the eyes of a new comer that year. By 2012, it had become old hat.

My vacations historically have involved either going to new places, or in returning to ones where I had been before, finding new things to do. I had completely lost that aspect of myself in 2012.

So, was 2013 a better year for me at the beach than 2012? Yes, it was. Was it perfect in every respect? No, but I learned lessons along the way.

For example, this year, I made it a point to go off on my own for lunch each day, and I got to know some of the local merchants, (meeting new people is something I love to do).

After the first day of trudging to the beach to the same meeting spot where my wife's family always meets (which is a thirteen block walk in beach tongs, carrying a chair, book, towel, sun screen, etc), it occurred to me I had a beach entrance 2 houses from where we were staying.

While, being with the rest of the family would have been nice, I did have the choice to not walk 13 blocks to be with them, for what amounted to maybe an hour's worth of beach time a day for me (I was fine with my wife walking the 13 blocks to spend 5 to 6 hours of beach time with her family).

Ultimately, any experience, whether you like it or do not like it, comes down to perspective. Only you can determine your perspective and what is going to make an experience be its best for you.

I'm very fortunate to have a partner who understands that while there are many things we share and enjoy together, there are other things which frankly we look at and experience from completely different points of view.

I would not want to keep her from what she enjoys doing, and at the same time she wants me to be comfortable in that which I do.

However, I in particular have had to remember, she is not a mind reader and I need to express my feelings honestly and openly about how I would prefer to do something.

While beach week 2014 is a year away, 2013 was a year of progress for me in terms of an activity that I wondered how I would ever get through again in 2012. I even filed away some lessons for next year that I'll look to apply.

What is it in your life that provides you that feeling of frustration? Does it continue to get you upset constantly? Take a step back and see if there is a perspective from which you can approach it?

Or, if you believe there is no perspective that will work for you, ask yourself, why am I doing this activity at all? You do have a choice in how you choose to view and experience that which you live every day.

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