I was perusing a book once in a bookstore – cannot remember the name – in which the author said something like, “Family vacations are not about vacations. They are about family dynamics.” It was a reframe that stuck with me. Of course, there are plenty of personal catastrophes that came to mind. But, right along next to them were the heart-opening, unexpected surprises.

I remember going to Charlottesville with my wife and son many years ago. We didn’t have much money and so we stayed in a Hampton Inn – not our first choice. It felt so meager and unexceptional at the time. We were unloading in the parking lot when our son, Gabe, then five, started dancing in the parking lot and singing, “I love my family, I love my family!” It changed my chennel. Seeing the world through his explosion of joy was just what I needed to get with the program. This was already an exceptional trip and it had barely begun!

I remember another trip with him, this time about seven, driving to visit my wife’s parents in South Carolina. We were on 95, a major highway. It was raining and the traffic was packed. We were behind an 18-wheeler and suddenly some large cable came off the truck. There was no way to swerve. The cable went underneath my van, severing my fuel line. My entire gas tank dumped on the road. I lost all power. I was able to get onto the shoulder and call for help.  Nervous and unhappy, it was difficult to see through the downpour and there was a ton of traffic. I was keeping an eye out for the tow-truck while thinking about how to take care of my wife and son and how to arrange to have our car repaired.

Laura and Gabe 2005When the tow-truck showed up it was a big one, the kind that tows large trucks. After the driver hitched up our van, he invited us in the front seat. Gabe practically jumped for joy. Sitting in the front of that big tow-truck made his day. He was having the time of his life and his enthusiasm was contagious. From his point of view, it was all part of the adventure.

We had a blast in another cheap hotel room while waiting for our van to be fixed. Here’s a photo of Gabe expressing his enthusiasm by kissing his mom!

Is there something going on in your life that, reframed, is a lot more palatable – perhaps even magical when seen from a different perspective?

Is there someone who is having a life-changing experience going through something you might have thought was tedious or even horrendous? If so, latch on to their enthusiasm and enjoy the ride. You might even make a memory!

Success consists of going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.

 – Winston Churchill