Sunday, October 12, 2014

Enjoying every moment

The plan
More than 10 years ago together with friends and families, we planned a holiday to the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe in Chimanimani to unwind, reboot and forget the hustle and bustle of city life. We booked and confirmed accommodation and it seemed a great plan. We left home around about 10pm or so for the more than 400km trip. Everything went well until we reached the so called holiday destination and saw the state of the accommodation. It was nowhere near what we expected and the decision to leave was unanimous and immediate. Now, this was around 1am that we were making this decision which meant finding alternative accommodation, hours away from home and in the middle of the bush literally. We had to start from scratch to find a place to stay, and our clever planning and plotting of alternatives took us to a 4x4 off-road trail where one of the cars got stuck in a river at around 3am in the morning. Who wants to get out of a car at that time of day and into cold water in the dark without knowing what lurks beneath and push a car, I ask with tears in my eyes? Well, I would want to say not me, but in hindsight, it is something possible. Manpower was abundant with enthusiasm and zeal found wanting. After much discontent, murmuring, witch hunting (for the person who chose the route of course) and a bit of cursing, we managed to get of the sticky situation and re-routed to several places without success of finding anything. Seeing that the prospects of finding a place were almost non-existent, we drove back to a town we had passed through earlier called Marondera (no holiday destination) which is around 70km from Harare and got there in the dawn of morning. Long story short, we managed to find a place and hence our holiday plan survived against all odds albeit not in the preferred bush setting planned.

What about the ride?
Years later my friends and I have reflected back on this holiday and have had a good chuckle while talking about what happened that day. I realized something about life and about myself. We often plan our journeys but do not plan to enjoy every moment, no matter what comes our way during the journey. We plan to enjoy the desired outcome at the end, but not the journey itself, nor the incidentals that may occur as we take the journey. During the mishaps that we encountered during our holiday, none of us thought, "hey this is fun, lets enjoy it!". It was not fun! We did not enjoy the mishaps, only to realize years later, that we actually did have an adventure and would laugh about it. I also realized that for me, the best holidays are the ones with a bit of unplanned detours, uncertainty and improvising, not the clearly planned ones where everything just falls into place, I do not remember them as much. So the lesson there is you must enjoy every moment as you do anything, be it planning an event, taking a long trip or a short one like going grocery shopping or anything you may do. There is the cliché, life is a journey, enjoy the ride, and it holds so much meaning. How easy it is to forget when things do not work according to plan that they are probably working to a different plan than we had, and many a time, we cannot revert to the old plan, which means not enjoying what is happening implies that you become a miserable person. Maybe that detour is your intended plan? Well it actually ends up as part of the plan does it not? But if you do not enjoy the moment, what a miserable day, week, month, year or God forbid, life you end up having.

My tips to enjoying every moment
  1. Determine to enjoy every moment of your life. Not easy, hence - determine!
  2. Focus on the result and devise an enjoyable process to get there. Think differently.
  3. Laugh first, then think about how to get out of that mess. Do not get angry! This I do many times in traffic.
  4. Be alert to mishaps that can make an experience bad and have counter actions ready. If you have none, refer to number 1.
  5. Just think, whether you enjoy or not, time does not stop. Rather make every second count. Do not get even a single grey hair while being miserable.
If the above tips do not work, turn around, go home and enjoy a cup of coffee. Seriously, do not wait for the destination to enjoy the ride. Not to take away from benefits of good and proper planning as well as a flawless holiday or trip, but do enjoy the ride together with the moments of getting stuck in the mud, breakdowns, slow boats and flat tires when they happen. It is part of the journey and adventure and truth be told, you it will make for a good story with friends and family when you return, and they will probably enjoy that part more. Well people are different I would say, many prefer flawless plans, order and smooth rides, but what do you do when your plan does not work out? Do you block all form of initiative towards making it work in another way by failing to embrace what is before you? I have decided to enjoy every moment as I take on anything in life. Believe me, I am not being the ostrich here oblivious to the difficulty inherent in this. It is not easy to laugh when a great plan has to change leading to more work and hours into something, whether it is your fault or not, but all I am saying is it makes life better when you try and enjoy the unexciting, uninspiring and unenjoyable.

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