Expect the Unexpected…by Liimu
When Hurricane Irene hit, we were in what could have been considered the worst possible place – at a beach house along the Jersey Shore. Not just at the jersey shore, but in a house that’s literally situated between the ocean and the bay. Most of the time, this is a luxurious thing, and these two weeks are a time we look forward to for months in advance of our finally arriving. When the media was calling for a hurricane that was destined to impact 65 million people and potentially cause 14-foot waves that would wipe out everything in its path, it was clear that this was not the ideal place to be. Still, I was determined to have my vacation and so rather than begin plans for evacuation, I started googling indoor games and activities, with the thought that we would hunker down and weather out the storm. Pun intended.
I had reserved the house back in January, had asked the babysitters to accompany us so I could work while on vacation even months earlier than that. When I secured a project that required me to attend a two-day workshop two hours away from the shore right in the middle of our vacation, I gritted my teeth, thanked God for the work during this rough economic times, and made my hotel reservations. At least I’d have two weeks minus two days. When the sitters kept being thwarted away from coming due to weather (there were horrible storms the first weekend and of course, the second weekend when Irene arrived), I massaged my temples and thanked God that they were here when I most needed them. I wasn’t looking particularly forward to managing all three kids in the house down the shore during a hurricane, but what was the alternative?
When Gov. Christie and Cape May County issued the mandatory evacuation orders, that question was quickly answered. It was clear that my plan was not going to be the one executed, yet again. Like I said in a previous blog, “We make plans, God laughs.” As I packed up our belongings and thought about the fact that I was going to have to go home, come back, only to turn around again and head out to the workshop, I began to give way to self-pity, then quickly jolted myself back to gratitude. At least my husband was around and completely capable to care for all the kids while I was gone. One of our sitters was willing to come down at least for one day, so that would help. We were even talking about having the whole family just wait for me and we would all go down together after the workshop was over. A check was waiting for me when I got home, so at least I’d be able to put that in the bank. Lemonade…lemonade…it’s lemonade, I told myself.
When I woke up Sunday morning, the first thing I noticed was that the power had never gone off. Lucky. Other than some flooding, our area had been largely unaffected. I watched the news all morning, but saw no signs of serious damage down the shore either, nor did I read of anything online. I wasn’t entirely surprised, then, to get a call from the owner in the afternoon saying that the damage was minimal and we could come back down that very same night. Even though I’d have to turn right around a couple days later, we took him up on his offer, barely hesitating to pack the car up with our suitcases that had remained unpacked the entire weekend.
By 8:30 pm, we were enjoying another beautiful sunset view over the bay from our rear deck. This is what life’s about, I thought. Enjoying the moment. Maybe I’ll have to leave, but at least I’ll have made the best of the time we have here. The next morning, I got up and ran a couple miles along the beach, then walked to get coffee from the local Wawa. I got home, checked my e-mail and was amazed to see that due to flooding from the hurricane, our workshop had been cancelled and would be rescheduled to late September! Then, the owner called us again a few hours later to say that due to the fact that we’d been forced to evacuate, he was letting us stay an extra two days!
Yet again, I get a great lesson in expectations and letting go. While I can make whatever plans I like, the only thing I should ever expect is the unexpected. Expecting everything to go the way I plan is a set up for not only occasional disappointment, but oftentimes an outcome that falls far short of how well things could have gone if I’d been able to relax and go with the flow.