I’m feeling so lucky. I just got to spend 3 days with my Mom and my sister. We make an annual trek to the beach for a weekend and it is always restorative and fun. In years past we went either in May or September, when it was warm, and would spend hours walking or sitting on the beach, dipping our toes in surf, looking for shells and marveling at the horizon.
This year, we went a little later, in October. A week before our trip the weather forecast was already letting us know that it wasn’t going to be our usual magical weekend at the shore. A huge storm system was moving up the coast… very slowly. As our trip got closer, there was a little uncertainty. My sister feared flooding on the roads. My Mom bemoaned the forecast but remained determined. They both optimistically packed swimsuits and beach towels, but we chose the car that rode highest of the road. I packed quickly the morning of the trip, after getting the kids on the bus, and didn’t even think about a swimsuit. Something in me knew not to bother.
We arrived at our usual hotel 3 hours later, having snacked and talked the whole way. We immediately went to take a walk, as it wasn’t raining at the moment, and when we reached the boardwalk, the wind nearly blew us over. We trudged on anyway, staying on the boards as the surf was high and the sand everywhere from the stormy day before. We talked, well yelled so we could hear each other, eventually deciding to take a walk up a side street to get some protection from the wind. There was a little moaning, a little weather talk, but more of a resignation. It is what it is.
Truth be told, it was the most relentlessly bad weather I’ve experienced on a trip that didn’t involve a tent (that gets a whole different grading scale). But somewhere between the first night and lunch on the second day (and after 9 glorious hours of uninterrupted sleep), we all made the switch. And it’s a switch we would not have made as easily in years past. THIS trip made it really easy to ditch our old plan. THIS trip reminded us and let us practice letting go of your expectations and finding the beauty in what really is. We weren’t there to be at the beach, after all.
Our old plan, our surface plan, included sun, fun and salt air. It would have been easy to either cancel the trip or simply allow the weather to ruin the weekend. But we didn’t because the sun, the fun and salt air were really only part of the plan. Another part of the plan was to simply be away: away from our usual responsibilities, away from our usual routines, away from our chores. The weather would have had to be worse to ruin that plan. The most important part of the plan, the deepest core of the plan was just to be together for longer than it takes to have a holiday meal. This is the part of the plan that weather could not shake. We could be together in the rain (or the “sea spray” as we kept calling it as it poured on top of us). We could be together in the wind. We could be together in the bookstore, the bead store, a few restaurants and in our hotel room reading and playing games. Our hearts’ purpose for the weekend was not shaken. It was our surface plan that took the hit, and because our hearts’ purpose was so clear, it was easy to let it go.
All of this got me to thinking that we so often get discouraged when we get the surface level hit, when we arrive at some destination and things are not what we expected them to be. It is easy to simply let that sink us, to allow the hit to mean more than it really does. Our heart’s purpose is such a better measure, and so much more resilient. “I’ve arrived. It’s not what I expected, but I’m still in love with the reason I’m on this road. I still want to see where it goes. My purpose is intact, even though it’s raining cats and dogs (or everything’s topsy-turvey, or my new coworkers are so annoying). My purpose keeps me balanced as the sand (very very wet sand) shifts below me.
Maybe that’s what resilience really is, the ability to check in with our heart’s purpose when the plan goes awry, the ability to breathe and find beauty in the storm, to take shelter if necessary, but not to give up on the joy, fulfillment and fullness that awaits us. How are you reacting to the surface hits in your life? Feel like you’re sinking? What does your heart’s purpose tell you? Your heart’s purpose is in there waiting to steady you, weathering the storm.
If the surface hits are coming one after the other and your heart’s purpose has gotten buried, let me know. I’m here to help you check in. Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.