What can you do when plans go awry?
Accept what you cannot change; appreciate what you have, and make the best of it.
I had the opportunity to put this into practice when I had to cancel my family vacation. Summer is usually the best time to take time off from my busy practice. Patients have fewer respiratory infections and with school out, many are on vacation themselves. To celebrate my daughter’s high school graduation, we had planned seven months ago to take her to New York and the Calgary Stampede.
But through circumstances beyond his control, my locum physician had to cancel without time to arrange a replacement. Realizing how disruptive it would be for patient care, I cancelled my trip and let my family travel without me.
For part of my first day in an empty home, I appreciated the quiet order. Coming home after work, there were no shoes to trip over. The dishwasher was loaded the way I like it to allow for efficient unloading. There were no dishes in the sink except for my breakfast cereal bowl. I could choose what I wanted for dinner – and prepare and eat it alone.
I made a list of things to do over the next two weeks (My wife was no longer around to write her list). Of course, the work of medical practice could consume as much as I would allow. The daily review of test results and consultation letters and making referrals consumes at least two hours after the last patient leaves the office.
After the long weekend, I worked an extra Saturday morning to reduce my patients’ wait time for appointments. I finished two medical legal reports (about 10 hours of work) on evenings and weekends. I was happy that I wasn’t out of town for the maternity and newborn care for two of my long-time patient families.
I missed my family especially on my wife and daughter’s birthdays. This was the first time I wasn’t with them on their special days. I was thankful for texting, email and facetime.
I turned my quiet home time into a mindfulness retreat. I listened to Tara Brach’s podcasts on dharmaseed.org each morning and night and throughout the weekends. They inspired me to remain mindful at all times. I chose my thoughts and my activities.
I enjoyed being a tourist in my own town. We are lucky to live in a vacation destination for the rest of the world, and summer is a magical time with special community events every weekend.
I enjoyed Burnaby’s Canada Day concert and the awesome fireworks at Swangard Stadium. I called up my oldest friend and we met up at Deer Lake for the VSO’s Symphony in the Park. I enjoyed the live music at the Khatsalano Street Party.
I enjoyed weekend and evening cycling through busy, beautiful Central Park, and extra swims in the outdoor pool.
I cycled around my alma mater, UBC and explored the rich displays of the Museum of Anthropology. I treated my eyes and my soul to the Nitobe Memorial Garden, a uniquely beautiful Japanese garden hidden in the northwest corner of campus.
I cycled the seawall of English Bay and Stanley Park. I must have taken over 200 photos during my two-week working staycation.
Life is never perfect and may not always go our way, but it’s still beautiful. Missing the people in our lives reminds us to appreciate them and our precious time together. Being tourists in our own town shows us the beauty around us each day.