Personal Restoration Renovation and Conservation: On Perspective
For more than a decade we have been taking our family to Southern Utah for Spring Break.
This year was no exception.
But I knew this year would be different….bittersweet.
You see, this year my oldest is a senior in high school which meant this would be his last spring break with us….so I wanted this year to be extra special.
As this vacation was approaching we talked about all the things we wanted to do on this last family spring break…my sons favorite hikes, spots to visit, and places to eat. We knew exactly what we wanted to do…we have been to this same location dozens of times…and our plan was flawless.
Mix this planned trip down memory lane with the fact that the weather in Southern Utah is usually sunny and beautiful this time of year (unlike the blanket of snow and grey skies we were under at home) and you have a recipe for the perfect spring break. Unfortunately, sometimes recipes aren’t followed……
We arrived at our destination Sunday night, settled in, and… woke up Monday morning to cloudy skies, low temperatures and wind. So we grabbed our jackets and set out for our first hike. By the time we arrived at the trail it was snowing and the wind was blowing. We passed people in the parking lot hustling back to their cars. But this is our favorite hike….this was our plan…and so we set off.
It was so windy….and it snowed…and it hailed…and the wind kept blowing.
BUT…we completed the route…including the extra turn off up to a beautiful lookout.
We had planned on other hikes but we were cold and wet.
NO problem….the boys went back to the house and the girls headed off to go thrifting.
It was still going to be a great day….until my 11 year old started to complain of a stomach ache. Within an hour the poor thing was throwing up…and throwing up..so much throwing up…until about 3 am.
At then 4am my 14 year old started throwing up.
At then 6am my husband was running a fever, had a sore throat, and a cough.
It was morning on Day 2 and we were not off to a good start. The sun tried to shine but it was still cold and windy. I had been up all night and by this point had carpet cleaned a floor and a couch, done at least half a dozen loads of soiled clothing and bedding, and was seeing that this was not going to be the epic spring break that we had planned.
I’d like to say that things got better….that by noon the sun was shining, birds were singing, and everyone magically felt better…..but that was not so.
However, by dinner time everyone was settled enough that my Simon (my senior) and I decided to go for a short hike up our favorite canyon. And Grace, who hadn’t been sick for a few hours, wanted to come along.
So we tucked my husband and youngest in with blankets and a movie and set off for the canyon.
As we parked in the lot at the base of the trail people were again rushing back to their cars….the wind was howling…but we were like “this is our canyon and we are going in!”…and in we went.
It was freezing…but it was also beautiful.
All of the rain and snow had filled valleys up with water…a sight we had never seen before and was quite frankly, magical.
To add to the magic we had what is called “The White Amphitheater” all to ourselves….something that almost never happens…especially during spring break.
The three of us walked around and around. Up and down the white cliffs. We talked and laughed and shivered. We stood on top of the look out and decided that it would have been a shame to miss out on this wicked cold evening.
On the way back down the trail the sun was setting and orange reflected off of the pools of water.
It was beautiful.
At one of these places I stopped to take some pictures. Simon asked what I was doing….the water is gross…why was I taking a picture of it.
And from where he was standing the water did look bleak, dirty, shallow, stagnant, and well…terrible.
I saw that angle too but found that if I took a step to the left and went in for a closer view everything changed.
From my perspective, there, crouched on the ground with my phone the view was brilliant.
It was the very same location…the very same pool of water….the only thing that was different was the perspective.
And that’s when it hit me: This Spring Break was not and did not have to be terrible…it could in fact, be brilliant. That too, all depended on my perspective.
I could focus on the cold, the wind, the barf, the diarrhea, the coughing, the weather, the storm, and the change of plans…and that view was pretty abysmal.
Or, I could focus on the fact that I have all my family together and that we have been together every single spring break for more than a decade. And then I could move in closer and look through the lens of being physically able to hike. And then shift a little to one side and see what a miracle it is to have a two teens and a tween who actually want to spend time together…and with me. And folks, that view….that view is beautiful beyond compare.
Kneeling there in the mud a lump formed in my throat and everything changed.
Sure it was still cold and windy (my fingers were numb). I was still going to have to do 8.9 million more loads of dirty laundry. And yes….there would be more sickness but the universe had given me a gift and shifted my perspective.
Life throws us curve balls and our recipes for success get foiled. That sucks. Super sucks, actually. But we can stand there and stare at the mud or we can shift out perspective and look for the light.
Now, I realize there are things that are far worse than sickness and bad weather on vacation but that doesn’t make this message from the universe any less poignant for me.
This year has already been a year. In fact, many times from where I have been standing my outlook matches Simon’s perspective of the water: bleak, dirty, shallow, stagnant, and well…terrible.
I have cried, and cursed, more this year than ever before. Things have been hard.
The barfing on vacation just seemed to be par for the course…until the view through the camera lens changed my view.
No matter what I am faced with I can choose my own perspective. I am not rooted. I can move and shift and change my outlook. I can decide to focus on the muddy abyss that pops up in my path or I can change the lens, adjust my sunglasses, and look for the light.
I might still be fighting the wind and the cold but the journey will be so much better….and when that sun starts to shine I will be ready.
PS: More than a year ago I started off on a journey of Personal Restoration, Renovation, and Conservation and I invited you along….but then I left you all at the bottom of the icy Atlantic Ocean. As I said, this has been a year…but the search parties are still out. And we will resurface.
Don’t give up. Lifeboats will be arriving soon.