Me and Clark Griswold

Jan 8, 2023

I don’t know Sparky… I just have this feeling. 

Confession time- I have a little (a lot) of Clark W Griswold III.  I set expectations that no family event can ever live up to. 

When have I done this?  All the time. But most assuredly when it comes to vacations. 

What I am poking at here is living a life full of expectations. And I suspect I am not the only one who struggles with this. 

Here’s how bad it has been…I don’t know whether to laugh or cry when reminiscing. The expectations have been so high that even the slightest deviation or event that falls short sends me spiraling. 

We had a week-long vacation a few years ago. Work had been crazy so I didn’t get much of a chance to breathe leading up to it and I really needed the time off. Sort of coasted into the day we left on fumes and threw some things in a suitcase. The morning I woke up to fly, the first thought in my head was that we only had seven days left of vacation!  Who does that?  It hadn’t even started and I was counting down the end. 

Where is the win in that?

I don’t know about you, but I struggle with expectations. Does any of this sound familiar? We are going to go on this perfect vacation for the perfect amount of time and it will be perfectly relaxing and at the same time exciting and restorative and the travel itself will be great and no one will get sick and it will be amazing. 

If the vacation fires on all cylinders and is amazing and goes perfectly (which it is life so it never does) then there is no excitement because I expected it. 

Anything less is a disappointment. And the disappointment really stinks!

I have been trying to flip the script for a long time and I think I had my first glimpse last week in Southern California. Amy, Blake, and I went to watch Jace march in the Rose Bowl Parade. Blake had other obligations on both ends of the trip so we decided on a quick trip so he could come along and that was great for all of us. 

I prayed about it and went with truly only two expectations- we would see Jace and the Pella Marching Dutch march in the parade and we would build our own lightsabers at Disney (we made reservations). 

That was it. And I made peace with that. 

Instead of towering expectations, my mindset was one of expectancy- that if we left ourselves open to a range of possibilities- what might happen?  

It was amazing. All 4 of our flights were delayed. Wait…what’s amazing about that?  Let me tell you- we made one connection by less than five minutes with a miracle of a gate location when we landed. Old me would have been FREAKING out. Amy even asked- how are you doing with all this- and I answered fine. It was all good. We knew it would be crazy close IF we made it and the miracle is this- we landed at Gate A2 and departed A4- we didn’t even have to walk across the hall! That’s a first for us!

We had great conversations with our Uber drivers because we weren’t in a hurry. We got pushed out of a booth at In- N- Out burger by someone who said they had been there longer than us. No worries. Must have been super important for them to have that booth!

We walked to the Rose Bowl and got to experience an amazing football stadium because we found random tickets that were much less than we thought they would be. 

We fell asleep before 9pm PST the first night we were there. New Years Eve.  How’s that for ringing in the new year in style?  We slept well. We rested.

And our flights back were anything but predictable. Delays.  Excuses.  Ah well.

And it was all good. And I came back relaxed and refreshed after a busy, action-packed trip which is the opposite of how we usually travel. 

The expectancy of what might happen and the excitement over it was greater than any expectations I had. 

It was glorious. 

And afterward I thought of all the vacations that I wish I had known this mindset- and then I remembered that all roads converged to now for a reason. There’s a reason it is called wisdom. You can’t have it when you are 25. You only get it with more trips around the sun. 

The lesson is this- experience life. Live it with expectancy. Not setting yourself up for failure, but instead being open to what might happen. Living with awe and wonder. 

Clark Griswold set himself up for failure- with birthdays, anniversaries, parties, graduations… and the list goes on. 

I want to live with the joy and anticipation of what might happen and then being open to possibilities- that sounds like a great way to #WINtheNOW!

We all have a little Clark in us. He doesn’t have to get the last word.


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