Accepting Past Choices - Lessons From The Close Of Summer

Main Posts Background Image

Main Posts Background Image

Monday 26 September 2016

Accepting Past Choices - Lessons From The Close Of Summer

We arrived here in Caorle around 2 weeks ago now to find summer still very much in full swing. The sun was high and clothing was very much minimal as we sweated our way past bustling beach cafes and crowded deck chairs en route to our well appointed apartment a little north of the main town. We had headed here for a period of stability, reflection and a self-care reset following a month in the mountains and a whistle stop tour of Egypt and indeed we have certainly found what we needed in that respect. Yet something else strange has happened as well. Summer unexpectedly seemed to 'close' and in doing so created a wonderful opportunity to work on accepting past choices and how we can make that easier for ourselves.

I'd never heard of Caorle before I stuck the words "beach near Venice" into Google and then opened up  to be pleasantly surprised by some of the apartment prices for a week long stay here. Initially when we had returned from Egypt our intention had been to take just a few days in Venice and head straight back to the mountains. Yet it had become abundantly clear during our 5 nights in Mestre that after a very busy summer we were not ready to head straight back into the wild. We could have done it and probably a few years ago would have made ourselves stick to the plan. But this time we decided to be sensible, prioritise self care and take a weeks extra rest by the coast first. If there was one thing this summer had taught us it was that self care has to be one of our top priorities if our travels are going to be enjoyable and sustainable. As any one browsing this blog will know, we love mountains, but as we wrote recently we can't pretend living out of a tent isn't demanding too.

Besides, after living on a crowded camping in Mestre and then arriving at the coast to discover summer still going strong, with 30 degree plus heat, hundreds of people in the sea and hotels doing a roaring trade we still had plenty of time for the mountains. Or so we thought.

Our first few days here were wonderful. Our apartment was amazing. We juiced and ate healthy food, slept in a comfy bed and relaxed on the beach. We swam in the sea, played tennis on the sand and got comfortable in our surroundings. We even celebrated Esther's birthday with a morning dip in the sea as the sun rose out of it. We were enjoying it so much that we decided to book in for a second week as well. After all, there was still plenty of time to get back in the tent in the mountains.....

Then something changed. It was at the start of our second week as we were walking down the street and suddenly noticed that there was hardly anyone else around and that a couple of familiar and previously busy hotels had all of their shutters and blinds closed. By coincidence the previous few days had been a little chiller too with overcast skies and nocturnal thunderstorms so we'd stayed inside a little more. The last time we had ventured to the beach it felt like we were in a high season Mediterranean beach resort, now we felt like we were in an out of season UK seaside town. It might sound like I'm being overly dramatic but it really was quite eerie how overnight the change seemed.

Over the following day or so the changes continued. The reams of parasols and loungers on the beach started to vanish, more hotel foyers emptied of furniture and people and the overcast weather continued with more few showers. Even our wonderful apartment block went from a full car park to containing just 2 cars.

Summer, it seemed, had gone south overnight but no one had told us. Where had been our memo?

Not that any of these changes should have affected us really... but they did. We carried on with our routines but we definitely felt unsettled...we just weren't sure why. Then it hit us. We were scared that summer had ended and that we'd missed it. In the previous 2 adventures we'd had a similar experience when the weather got too chilly to stay in the mountains and we'd waited for a week or more on the French-Spanish border just in case it warmed up again before we headed south. On both occasions we'd then got to Spain and wondered why we'd waited so long. But this time it wasn't heading south we were worrying about, it was the choices we'd made in the previous few months that we were subconsciously questioning. Despite all of the lessons and positives we had taken away from our adventures in the previous few months, with our love of the high mountains in summer we couldn't help wondering if we shouldn't have done things differently after all.

For example,  we had chosen to spend June and most of July in the UK clearing up our old lives instead of travelling. Also, we had chosen to leave the Swiss Alps to go to Egypt in mid August when the sun had been high over the peaks. Had we really done the right things? The mountain areas we love are only 'open' for the activities we enjoy the most for few months of the year and we'd chosen to be elsewhere for much of that.

What we were experiencing as an unsettled feeling was an internal conflict between the part of brains saying 'don't be silly, you've had wonderful time, you're incredibly fortunate to be traveling as you are, snap out of it' and another part saying 'I wish we'd done things differently. I think this is a conflict we have experienced countless times in our lives, long before we travelled, and occurred over anything from daily, mundane choices to life changing, drastic ones. Although it might even sound trivial (or selfish) to voice them over something like whether we spent time in Egypt or in the mountains this summer,  whatever the scenario it was always the same feeling. A feeling verging on (often unspoken) doubt and regret when comparing what actually happened to some other imagined possibility.

Thankfully after over 2 years now of self reflection and meditative practice we have become far more adept at catching thoughts like these before they run away with themselves and instead have learnt to sit with them, journal them and try and pull out the lesson. It took us a few days to catch ourselves 'wishing things were different' but we did and have come to realise that to help us remain more mindful and accepting of things as they are (in addition to our existing mindfulness and meditative practice) what we need to do in future is to commit to our actions more and define what we want to get out of experiences beforehand.

Before going to Egypt, for example, we told ourselves we had no expectations although that wasn't really true. We did have expectations we just never took the time to express them. By not defining our expectations during the time we were deciding whether to go or not we hadn't committed fully to the trip and so left the door open to doubts later on. Likewise with clearing up in the UK. We knew we were making a 'sacrifice' of travel time by staying in the UK in early summer but hadn't ever fully accepted the choice we had made and been 100% committed to it.

Looking back this has often happened with past decisions in our lives. Sometimes, by telling ourselves we were going with the flow and therefore not fully appreciating why we chose to do certain things over others we never fully committed to them. This is something we want to address in the future, including on our decision of where to next?

So one of the big lessons we are taking away with is from our time in Caorle is to know in advance how long we plan to do something for, define why we are doing it and get comfortable with whatever 'sacrifices' we are making to do it. Because there always are 'sacrifices' no matter how subtle or hidden, if only from the fact you can't be in 2 places at once. We know that if we take the time to do this we can better close the door to doubts creeping in later on.

There have also been other lessons as well, like not romanticising the idea of places we choose not to go. Had we gone to the mountains directly from Venice, for example, and had thunderstorms there in the past we would likely have wished we'd gone to the beach after all. Yet here we were having those same thunderstorms.  Just seeing how quickly things can and do change in one place, from high summer to mirky chill overnight, further reminds us not to lose ourselves in stories that we could be better of elsewhere.

We can only be where we are in the moment after all. All the wishing in the world doesn't change that.

And do you know what, for all the unsettled feelings (and now gratitude for the lessons it has bought us) summer is making a last gasp effort again as well. After a week of chill the sun is now back out, not quite as warm as before but warm enough to enjoy the few remaining loungers on the beach until it's time to decide where to go next.

No comments

Post a Comment

Error 404

The page you were looking for, could not be found. You may have typed the address incorrectly or you may have used an outdated link.

Go to Homepage