How an Island Showed me Perception is Everything…

In my twenties, I was lucky to have opportunities to travel. I had gotten in touch with a friend from my teenage years and began spending time with her again. We fell back into our friendship very quickly. She invited me to go with her family on a trip after getting reacquainted with them.

They had a time-share and were planning a trip to the Bahamas. They invited me to go for 8 days and all I had to pay for was my airplane ticket. I was happy to accept. I had never been to the Bahamas and I was in desperate need of a vacation.

I approached the whole vacation with excitement. When I travel, I remain flexible. Unlike daily life, it is easy for me to just go with the flow of whatever happens. I realized quickly that her parents didn’t approach travel the same way. Our first flight into Miami was uneventful. When we arrived in Miami, we had to take a connecting flight to the island in the Bahamas where the resort was located. They seemed to be surprised it was Abacos which is a much smaller island than Nassau, where most tourists go. I remained enthusiastic. Hell, did they have water? Yes, I’m good.

We walked through the airport trying to find our connecting flight. We walked down, down, down until we stood on a tarmac that was nowhere near the huge plane that brought us to Miami. Instead, we were staring at a small plane that sat, maybe 10 people. I saw them loading our luggage and forced myself to be mentally prepared to board this plane. Her parents were angry and complaining that if they knew they would have to fly on that type of plane that they would have changed their accommodations.

We all boarded the plane and strapped ourselves into our seats. The plane was so small that there was one seat on either side next to a window. The air came in through tiny holes near the window. And, all I could do was laugh when the pilot moved a sheet and turned around to talk to us. At that moment, I realized this was going to be an adventure. I said my small prayer and relaxed. Her parents continued to complain even while we were up in the air.

The surprise was that I loved the flight. I already loved flying, but this was different. The huge planes are like trains where you know you are moving, but you can’t really feel it unless there is turbulence. On the small plane, I had an awareness that I was being supported by the air. We could feel every wind change. It was exhilarating or how I imagined birds must feel. I seemed to be the only one enjoying it. Every jerk led to more complaining.

Following the flight, we arrived at the resort. It was small, but on a significant amount of land. It had a dated, seventies, island vibe, but it was charming. There was a pool in the front and several rooms. But, the magic was behind it, it was on the ocean and there was a huge deck that sat in the middle of the water where you could sit as the waves crashed. My girlfriend and I spent many a night on that deck. The whole trip was fun, but that’s not the main point of my post so that is for another post.

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We walked into the assigned room and it was set up like a small apartment. We all looked through the rooms. One room had a King-sized bed and looked like any normal room with a television. There was another room with double beds. There was a full kitchen with pots, pans, and dishes. The living room had a couch and another television. It wasn’t the most luxurious room, but it had the amenities I expected. When I go on a vacation, I think if I do more than sleep in the hotel room then I have wasted my vacation. My girlfriend and I plunked down our things and were trying to figure out what we would do first.

We walked out into the living room and her parents were in a full-complaining rant.

“This room is nowhere near as nice as the ones we are used to.” 

“If I knew it was like this, we wouldn’t have even come.” 

“This is not at all what I expected.”

My girlfriend apologized with her eyes and I realized that I must have been looking at them like they were insane. They were threatening to go home. Eventually, we calmed them down and convinced them not to leave the island immediately. Instead, were able to shop for food and drinks through the kindness of strangers, who picked us up with their church van. We ate at a nice restaurant and they seemed to feel better about the island. My girlfriend and I left and went to a club near the resort where we met some locals and had a great time.

The next day, we woke up to her Mother cooking breakfast. We all ate while my girlfriend and I were trying to decide what we would do while we were there.

Her father announced, “We aren’t doing anything. We are just going to stay in the room.” 

My girlfriend and I looked at each other. I said, “You are going to stay in the room for 7 more days? There is so much to do.” 

He responded, “This is not the vacation I thought I paid for. I would rather stay in the room and watch tv. You kids go have a good time.” 

I was dumbfounded. But, I can tell you that they stayed in the room watching television for 7 days until we left the resort to get on the plane. There was nothing we could say to change their minds. My girlfriend and I, in contrast, were all over that island. We spent time with the locals. We went to various nightclubs, were invited to the local radio station and went to a festival. I had the time of my life.

It really taught me about perception and how you can let it color a whole situation. The vacation was ruined for the parents’ the minute things weren’t the way they expected and they let that affect how they saw the whole trip. The spent 8 days watching television, something they could do at home, instead of exploring an island that they never visit. Meanwhile, my friend and I remained open despite the differences in our expectations, we readjusted and made the most of the situation.

I believe you have a choice in how you see something and how you see it is the difference between suffering and enjoying.

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