Organizing Stuff and Facing the Unexpected

Posted by Somebody's Mother on 1:48 p.m.

Vacation.  Breathe in, breathe out.  Breathe in, breathe out.  Decompressing from the stress of work and shifting gears is not easy.  The first Monday of my summer holidays was spent looking for things that I misplaced and trying to organize the house for vacation mode.  As a professional librarian with twenty-seven years of experience, organization should be second nature to me, and it is…at work.  Home is another story.

Getting ready to frolic requires reservations, itineraries, changing money, preparing the housesitter/dogsitter, getting the animals to the vet, making lists, packing…wait a minute. Organizing is what I do for a living - why am I spending days of my vacation doing what I do at work?

Then there’s helping my children organize their lives. When you have kids in university, they invariably move, and they move once a year so there’s the packing and organizing of someone else’s stuff which requires lots of questioning and hence lots of arguments about what to throw out, what not to throw out and the best way to organize stuff. No matter who you are, you will eventually have to organize someone else’s stuff.

It’s somewhat amusing to me that my last rather serious column was about organizing your parents’ stuff or getting your parents to organize their own stuff so that life doesn’t become a complete and utter living hell when all hell breaks loose.  Yet, the other side of the coin is that no matter how organized you think you are, life has a way of throwing challenges at you that makes that old British game show, The Weakest Link, look like child’s play.  It’s always best to leave room for the unexpected because it’s coming and it’s darn well going to get you. Don’t be The Weakest Link

Travelling is an invitation to the unexpected which is both its attraction and the thing that causes many people to just stay home, put their feet up with a cold beer, and watch whatever game is going on TV.  That’s the safest bet but without the unexpected, life just doesn’t have any spice.  The older I get, the less I like the unexpected, so that’s why I comfort myself with lists, research, and planning so that I can get the most out of a travelling vacation that I can get while still maintaining the point of view that if things go out of whack, you just have to go with it and see where you wind up.

One of my first adventures was nearly ruined because I was bound and determined to see the Sistine Chapel, the Tower of London, the Eiffel Tower and all those sights that we expect to see.  I soon learned that sitting in a café with new friends and watching the world go by was far more fun and gave me more insight into a new culture then rushing off to tourist sights. When I went to India this year, I found the Taj Mahal very beautiful, but it wasn’t the highlight of my trip – singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star to a mentally handicapped little girl in an orphanage was.  Her smile will always stay with me even though I didn’t take a picture of it. 

There’s no doubt that organizing stuff can make a trip safer and more fun, but leaving room for the unexpected will always allow for the opportunity of a magical memory and apart from relaxation, that’s what we really hope for when we travel.



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