This summer, especially in contrast to last year, has been one of my very favorites. We traveled halfway around the world and then traveled back again. On our way from Paris back to Dubai I had to pinch myself. What was I doing on a plane bound from Paris to Dubai in the first place? And more than that, the craziest shock of life about it was I was flying back "home" to a place I couldn't even locate on a map a few years before.
Last summer we spent 2 months in a villa next to a dirt lot that was under construction. No driver’s license allowing us to head to the mall during the day for an escape from the constant noise. No internet, no swimming pool and no television to distract us from the jackhammers. (See posts from June/July 2009 in case you don't remember that story...) This summer we have wifi and internet connections wherever we are, we are able to drive to theaters to watch movies and we have TV with pay-per-view. And not once have I broken out in a sweat wondering how many times I could say "excuse me" in attempting to understand someone's broken, heavily accented English before it would appear rude. Not even in Paris. It's not as daunting to me anymore.
Last summer we spent our days reading and playing endless games of monopoly. This summer we’ve had no time for board games yet. Books, we have still managed to squeeze in before bed or on our stream of sometimes seemingly endless plane flights.
Last summer we would sleep in late to make the days seem shorter and go by faster as we waited for Design Guy to get home. This summer we slept in late because we were exhausted from non-stop days of fun (and, ya, jet-lag too).
Last summer I would read the National newspaper cover to cover because time was all we had and it would kill two hours of that time. I still read the newspaper most days but it doesn't always get the attention it deserves.
While this summer has definitely been one of our very best in terms of great memories, last summer, in hindsight, offered us some good memories of its own. Looking back it was actually sort of fun (albeit in a weird way) to have no outside stimulation or electronic entertainment most days. At the time it felt boring and alienating. Then, even that was a routine we got used to. Really, I have found in reflecting on the last year, you can get used to anything. Lemons will always be able to make lemonade if you take action and accept what you've been given. It may not always taste exactly right, but anything is drinkable… if it wont kill you....
Last summer we had to rely on each other for amusement. We were creative. We had more time to talk and to listen. God gave us a slower pace as we adjusted to our new situation.
This summer we had everything we could ever want in terms of fun and diversity. Time with family and old friends and time to enjoy another new culture, Le Tour de France and amazing cathedrals. But each summer brought us something unique. And while I'd take this summer over last, a million times over, I am realizing my greatest lesson in comparing the two is about balance and not taking what you have for granted. What makes life a really great adventure or a not so great one? It's how you choose to view the situations you are given and how you bring balance and gratitude into living your life.
Now that we are back from our travels and non-stop pace, we will make sure to balance the rest of the summer with some of those "read the paper from cover to cover" and "monopoly” days we learned to enjoy last year. We will be grateful for all of it, the great days and the challenging ones, the busy ones and the quiet. You really can’t have one without the other. Both offer gifts.
My view is clearly different this year as I look out my window and compare it to the one we had last summer. I see blue sky- even through the humid haze that covers it some days. I never ever want to take what we have now, or even what we had then, for granted. There are lessons in both summers. Going through last summer got us to this fantastic one, so I will take it all.
Wow, it's amazing what a difference a year can make......