For a good part of my life, if I had an idea in my brain about something and it turned out to be different, I was disappointed. I couldn’t appreciate it for what it was. Instead, since it wasn’t what I had hoped for, it was wrong! It often took something rather dramatic for me to make the switch of mind to be in the moment without judgement.
Many of these deliberate mental switches have been out of the necessity to preserve the enjoyment of a trip, like with my Spanish adventure. My favorite example of making the leap from perconceived notions to the awesomeness of reality took place years before that.
Shortly after I moved to England, I took a trip to Switzerland as a 30th birthday gift to myself. I flew into the airport and got on the train to go into Geneva. I had directions to my hostel from a specific station, so I was all set. When the train stopped after just a few minutes, I looked up, and we were at the Geneva station, but it wasn’t the one I had directions from, so I stayed on the train. About 20 minutes later, I look up and there is countryside. I was about to panic when the conductor came by asking for my ticket. I showed him my ticket for Geneva, and he said something I couldn’t understand. I tried using my 10 year old rusty French (this was before my A level experience), when he switched to English for me and explained that I’d missed my stop. I showed him my printed maps, and he explained that there is only one Geneva station for trains. I must have looked like I was about to cry (because I was!), and he took pity on me and didn’t charge me for my unexpected excursion, but did inform me I would have to buy a ticket at the station to go back to Geneva.
As I sat on the train platform, upset at the bad omen I could see enveloping my birthday trip, I gave myself a wake up call. “Holy Crap, I’m in SWITZERLAND!” Considering that 9 months before I’d never left the United States and now I was on a weekend getaway to Geneva, this was pretty cool. I then took a picture and decided that I would definitely tell everyone of my unexpected side-trip.
There are still times when I have difficulty making that attitude adjustment, but I am so much better at it now that it startles me when it does happen. I think it is a skill like any other that gets stronger with practice. My new strategy is saying to myself, “Why be miserable because you guessed wrong? Enjoy the reality!” Since one of my goal is to live my life such that I have excellent stories to share at the senior center, unexpected adventures seem to be perfect in that capacity!
What serendipitous situations have you experienced?