Many moons ago, when I still felt young (LOL) before mortgages and children, my other half and I rewarded our workaholic selves with three or four rather exotic holidays every year. A distant but pleasant memory; as with four kids in tow, Euro camp seems to be as adventurous as it gets these days.
One year, a much anticipated trip to New York and The Florida Keys (we loved a twin centre back in the day!)Had to be cancelled very last minute, due to an extremely aggressive Hurricane (I think he may have been called Andrew?) Yes we were disappointed; but the travel agent literally handed us a Kuoni brochure and said choose a new destination. Anywhere in the world. (Must have been before we had the internet as well!) Los Angeles and Kauai seemed a pretty cool substitute.
Within hours of reaching the beautiful , tropical island of Kauai we were firstly told to fill our bathtub with water(okay, a bit strange) and we were later informed that Hurricane Iniki was heading in all its force five glory straight towards us!(that’s as bad as a hurricanes can get!)
In my youthful, British naivety I stayed very calm whilst the storm set about destroying this magical island. I found a lantern and read my book (likely to have been a Jackie Collins back then) during the five hours that the winds raged and the American lady ran up and down the hallway declaring “we were all gonna die!!!!!!”
We didn’t die. But I was rather shocked at the destruction this force of nature was capable of. Maybe that crazy American lady had a point. We spent three days living on spoonfuls of tinned sweet corn and macadamia nuts from the mini bar. No electricity, no running water. (That explained the bathtub!) Waiting to be evacuated to Hawaii; where I had the best shower of my life and discovered Mai Tai cocktails.
Whilst at yoga today, my friendly yogi neighbour was saying how she had quarrelled with her daughter. She had recently started college in London and was feeling anxious about travelling in. My friend had told her she must go. Her daughter accused her of not caring as many of the other girls mums had encouraged them to stay home.
I grew up in the 70s and my dad was extreme in his over protectiveness. He was obsessed with the bombings of that decade. I wasn’t allowed anywhere remotely exciting, no school trips for me. I don’t think I visited a zoo until I was 16!
It is said by people that know these things, that every action and reaction stems from a place of love or fear. My lovely yogi friend and my eccentric father were coming from both –tangled and confused with safety and courage. As somebody who knows, being wrapped up in cotton wool stunts your growth. Agreed it keeps you safe, but it also clips your wings.
As a person who likes to live in blissful ignorance, I make a conscious choice to avoid news reports. With the refugee crisis and the recent horrific attacks that have taken place in Paris I feel compelled to watch and feel deeply saddened by these atrocious acts of violence and suffering.
How do we continue to live life fully, if we are to live fearfully? Do we keep our children close to home, do we stop travelling abroad, going to football matches and museums and theatres. Do we stop shopping? Going to school, to university, to work?
In meditation towards, the end of the yoga class, I had this overwhelming feeling, a reoccurring thought. I survived Hurricane Iniki. This was the slogan on the souvenir T-shirt that we brought back from our travels.
We didn’t go searching for a natural disaster, but one found us anyway! I think my yogi friend is teaching her daughter to live her life courageously. Which is as loving a parent as you can ever be. Such a tough job we face encouraging our loved ones and even ourselves to carry on doing the things we love, to live our lives to the fullest without fear holding us back.
And much like the flushing toilet that we only truly appreciated once Hurricane Iniki had deprived us of it for three whole days, is the peace that we all take for granted on a daily basis. If there is ever a time to practice gratitude it must be now. Basic human rights, freedom and safety are precious gifts. Treasure them and send love and compassion to those that aren’t so fortunate.
Love and gratitude