Allowing for Surprise.

ellis beach

We are on holiday : a real holiday. One where you get on a plane and change climate zones and feel warm instead of frosted over. For a while I have stopped moaning about living in such a cold house (while reminding myself that In summer I love that same thing about it.)

It is a strange thing to have to plan ahead for holidays. We have had to outline an itinerary and make some provision, as it is the high season for tourism in Australia wherever it is WARM. We did that knowing that we will expect the unexpected to happen somewhere along the way…

At first we found ourselves anxious to fit in all the required tourist destinations. It wasn’t until Day Two when we rushed off to see the village up a windy road to the top of a mountain (well, a hill really) that we learned we were going to give ourselves a miserable time. It was the perfect introductory lesson – there were tired markets exactly the same as in every other struggling town, cheap clothing by the rack full, and irritable and snappy shopkeepers trying to feed and coffee bus-loads of tourists. We were getting quite depressed until we were smiled at by a young man with a broom, happily cleaning up in his family’s business. It was a good omen: the rest of the family were also cheerful and happy and welcoming. They said it was because they were just that sort of people, and they just liked being together and working and having fun at the same time. Balance was restored, and sympathy for the people having to have their little town over-run daily by such as US.

We went back to our flat, and reassessed. We returned our glossy brochures to the rack, and recalled what we had actually come for. We let go of all that ‘stuff’ and changed this into our own time. It feels so good. We are back on track. This is our holiday where we are light hearted together, easy in being lazy with no responsibilities. If we feel like moving we do, if we feel like just sitting that is fine. We will eventually get to see the Great Barrier Reef, and the Daintree Forest, but other than that, we are ‘just hanging’.

When I booked our accommodation, I dithered so long, that all the cheaper places were gone, and so we are now absolutely forced to spend these next three days in a delightful little bungalow on the edge of the sand and sea. It costs more than we had planned, but it is so perfect that we just don’t care. I take it as a gift from She-In-Whom-I-Often-Don’t-Believe.

The sea is grey and choppy, and quite loud and heavy in its rhythm, so I swam in the pool today, in water just cold enough for that first dive to take the breath away and clean me completely from any fogginess of mind and intention. Two little girls swam near me, and counted how long they could stand on their hands with their legs in the air. They were so beautiful, so full of the promise of their lives, gently arguing about how fast to say ‘One elephant, two elephants….’


Did I say we expected surprises?

Just after writing that much, I walked back to our little pretend home and made a plate of lunch while my husband slept. As I walked out to the little deck, I slipped down a step, and sprained my ankle badly. Plans were turned upside down again, slow had to reach a new dimension of slower.

It became a blessed time of gentleness and kindness between us. Accepting the limits opened the spaces for contemplating such dear things as the familiar curve of the body of a husband, time for laughing at our creakiness together but also sharing the trepidations  of our aging, time to treasure the memories of why we set out on life’s road with each other. Loving each other.

I think I hear a soft laughter from She-In-Whom….

About Pauline Small

After a long and varied career in teaching, I am now able to pursue my other love - writing as a form of exploring the depths of life's experiences. I live in South Australia, in an ordinary house in an ordinary suburban street, which is where the extraordinary happens every day.
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1 Response to Allowing for Surprise.

  1. Meg Hegarty says:

    Beautiful! Love the thought of that gentle chuckle…


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