Have you ever had someone or something figuratively (or literally) crap on your day? Maybe you had some fantastical plans in the works and for whatever reason, they just didn’t pan out. Maybe it was caused by a flight delay or because you spilled your beloved morning cup o’ jo down your white shirt.
It can ruin your whole day.
Or, depending on your perspective, it can be but a small bump in the road.
During my senior year of high school, my grandmother promised that she would take me on a trip to the place of my choosing if I achieved honours. So, in the spring of 2012, after having accomplished that goal, we set off for Greece and Turkey. An unlikely pair – a sweet old lady with a mildly offensive tongue and her granddaughter, a young woman from a small town in the prairies of Saskatchewan – were off to discover what Southeast Europe had in store.We were destined for some of the most beautiful beaches, churches, markets, mosques and museums in the world. I was reeling.
We spent three glorious days in Athens, where I almost exclusively ate olives and dough in various forms. We then set off for the gorgeous Greek Islands. Having seen hundreds of photos and heard endless tales of the islands’ beauty, my hopes were high. I had visions of leaving my grandma to travel back to Canada on her own, having fallen in love with a gorgeous Greek fisherman and agreeing to live on his boat off the shores of Mykonos. Sigh.
Unfortunately, those visions did not materialize.
Mother Nature figuratively crapped on my day.
I must define my happiness by things I can control, like the perspective I bring to situations, and the attitude I hold when things don’t go as planned.
As soon as we arrived in Mykonos, the island was hit with intense stormos (the Greek word for storm, naturally). I stood paralyzed by the cold rain and strong winds, utterly disappointed. There was no way I could grab lunch at an outdoor café or go for a dip in the ocean as I had imaged doing. But, I had traveled all the way to Greece; I didn’t want to stay in my room! I grabbed my camera, hoping to at least capture the melancholy island day on film.
It was then that I had an epiphany.
The very first photo I took was stunning. The lack of sunlight meant that there was no glare on the picture and the sky looked incredibly textured. It gave the white-washed island walls the perfect grey/blue backdrop. It was a photographer’s dream! I went around the island taking photos everywhere; I captured Agios Nikolakis and the Old Port. The landmarks were just as gorgeous on film as they were in person and I started to experience the most euphoric, photographic high.
I returned to the ship that night wet and exhausted. I had learned a valuable lesson, though: I cannot let my happiness be defined by variables that are out of my control (like the weather). I must define my happiness by things I can control, like the perspective I bring to situations, and the attitude I hold when things don’t go as planned. I was in Mykonos, a beautiful, far-away place with my grandmother, a wonderfully generous woman. That made me feel fortunate. It made me feel gracious. It made me feel happy.
So, the next time you are stuck in a mile-long line for a must-see tourist attraction, or get in a fender bender in the 5 o’clock traffic jam, remember this: your happiness comes from within you; it is all a matter of how you choose to look at and respond to the situation.
So, the next time you are stuck in a mile-long line for a must-see tourist attraction, or get in a fender bender in the 5 o’clock traffic jam, remember this: your happiness comes from within you; it is all a matter of how you choose to look at and respond to the situation. Try not to be bothered by things that are beyond your control. Always be grateful for every opportunity, big or small, that comes your way.
Especially – especially – when it comes to travel.
Words and Photos: Sydney Humble