To be or not to be [there]?
I have just come back from a road trip with my nearly adult children – Rog (18) and Liv (16). We went to the beautiful South Island of New Zealand in the winter and were treated to amazing fun and scenery. I normally don’t put photos of trips on-line, it feels like skiting, but as you have found this blog to read, I think they work!
A road trip is a great chance to get out of your life and reflect about life. Something we don’t do enough as we are just too damn busy.
I couldn’t afford the holiday financially. Business has been slow (and book sales are more a trickle than a torrent) so I should have stayed home. Equally, I realised that I was running out of chances to take my children away on holiday. They will soon be off and gone and so I thought – too bad, what’s the worst that could happen! I’m so glad I did as we had a great time and got see places and things we will likely never see again. Arthurs Pass, Arrowtown and the hauntingly beautiful Denniston (a coal mining town long ago abandoned).
It took a while for the children to lose their vice like attachment to their devices, but once they did, we spent time in the evening playing games, looking at photos and chatting. It was then the realisation came to me in the form of a Shakespearian quote – To be or not to be? That is the question.
In Hamlet’s case he was considering whether to live or die - bemoaning the pain and unfairness of life but acknowledging that the alternative might be worse (at least that’s according to Wiki). My realisation wasn’t a life and death one, but the choice to be “there” or to not be “there”. I started the roadie feeling reflective that holidays with my children may be coming to an end and I realised that they would no matter whether I was happy or sad. I needed to make the most of the time we have and not fret about the future which would arrive in due course.
I was reminded of when my dad was diagnosed with cancer and I spent several weeks in sad reflection. I pulled myself out of that by realising that I my dad was going to die, but I was only going to go through that once and not every day. He was alive now and that’s all that mattered. That’s all we get.
We all have the choice to live in the present, to be there, and enjoy what is happening right now. Especially the time we have with our children while they are children. Many people are physically present but not actually present. They seem to want to be somewhere else; at work, in the future, with other people, by themselves, in the past etc. Anywhere but the only place they can actually be! A very wise friend of mine once reminded me . . .
The life you have is played out in the present. As John Lennon said – it’s what happens while you’re making other plans. I’m grateful that, for the majority of my life, I have lived in the present and, in particular, have lived in the present with my children.
It was a great road trip and I’m sure we’ll have another. In the meantime I’m enjoying writing this blog 😊
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