There has been a lot to bitch about.
Our hotel room smells of stale cigarette smoke. The TV sets are old, with no remote control. The air-conditioning unit is also old (and loud! – it sounds more like an antique generator!). There are too many people on the beach (and way too much litter!). There’s too many people in the pub… drinking, and singing until all hours of night (and keeping us awake). The service in the restaurant (last night) was way too slow and our calamari tasted like battered strips of rubber… and it was expensive too! The sachets of cremora by the coffee station have gone hard. The breakfast buffet was awful… the eggs were only half cooked… the bacon was 2nd grade and not crispy… the plums were sour… the sliced ham was of the cheap, polony kind… the watermelon looked like it was 2 days old… the (only) waitress was indifferent… I could go on and on…
Additionally, this hotel was above our budget. We paid irritatingly more than what we were hoping to pay for an experience that is… at best… mediocre.
Today, I got up at 6am – and sat on the beach watching Morgan explore the rock pools.
“All this litter!” I grumbled to myself, “What kind of lazy, inconsiderate person just tosses their rubbish on the beach? It’s disgusting! And there is vomit in the parking lot – what’s wrong with people? Why the need to drink to the point of puking? So disgusting!”
I glared at the beach. I stewed in negative thoughts about the hotel… and the holiday makers… and everyone and everything else around me.
“Big fat waste of money!”, I thought to myself, “we never should have stopped over here. We should have driven straight to Plett… or found something nicer”.
And then it occurred to me.
I was sounding exactly like the type of person that I have always hoped that I would never become. The whingeing, grumbling, complaining, miserable kind of person that finds fault with everything and everyone.
The person that can’t appreciate the sun – because they’re too busy grumbling about the rain clouds.
I’m sure you’ve met many miserable-miseries in your life. They’re easy to recognise. They walk around with a proverbial thunder cloud hanging over their heads. They’re impossible to please. They complain about everything. You can put them in the most beautiful spot in the world – and they’d find something to grumble about. They’re miserable, bitter and unhappy.
And… I believe… this has been their CHOICE.
We choose happiness. We choose to see the rainbow instead of the thunder clouds. We choose to view the world through a particular set of lenses.
And so I decided: I choose to be happy. I choose to make the very best of every situation – no matter how frustrating or challenging it may be.
As soon as this epiphany hit me… I immediately shifted mental gears. Instead of focusing on the litter, the dog poo and the vomit in the parking lot. I focussed on Morgan. She didn’t see what I saw. She saw a beach… and interesting rock pools… and exciting little nooks and crannies where interesting rocks, shells and crabs could be found.
Morgan was happy. I want to learn from my 7 year old daughter.
I started looking at the beautiful sea… I closed my eyes and enjoyed the feeling of the fresh sea breeze… I sniffed the salty air… and I smiled. I opened my eyes again, and the world was new. I saw a family of excited children digging in the beach sand. I saw joggers enjoying their morning exercise. I saw fishermen and families and excited dogs chasing waves. I saw a beautiful coast line… and I gave thanks for the opportunity to be in Gonubie… to be by the beach… to be staying in a hotel (which, is such a privilege in itself)… (after all, most people on this planet can’t afford to stay in any hotel!).
Back at the hotel… I rejoiced in the fresh pot of coffee… and I smiled gratefully at a fellow guest, a stranger, who offered to pour my milk for me. I shared stories with my daughter and we decided to draw a face on a very round rock that she found at the beach, and give it a name. It would be her Gonubie rock… to remind her of this place.
And here – in the hotel bedroom… I give thanks once more. What a privilege it is to be in this hotel… our beds are comfortable… the sheets are clean and crisp. We have a big sliding window with a sea view. I type this while listening to the waves crashing on the beach, Nick quietly snoring… and Morgan and Joah playing with bits and pieces that they’ve found.
I am happy.