Those expectations will get you every time (… and Buenos Aires, 1st day)

 Wow!  Here it is; the first day of 2009.  Only 19 days to inauguaration.

new-year-in-sydney I am now entering my first year as ….  tada …. a Feminist Woman In Retirement.  How exciting this all is.  That photo – by the way – is Sydney, Australia celebrating New Year’s Eve 2007.  Do you see the bridge there in the center?  That’s the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  About 8 years ago, when David and I were visiting Nili, Andy and Art in Melbourne we took a day and flew up to Sydney and one of the things we did is the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb. Noam hadn’t been born yet of course, nor had the new baby we’re excitedly awaiting who should be joining us any day now – their 3rd child and my 4th grandchild.  Yes, we actually (tethered to the rails) walked right across the very top of that structure; quite an accomplishment, especially for David who is a bit acrophobic.   That was a pretty good year.  I’m guessing that 2009 will be a good one too.  To all of you (us) I wish peace and harmony and good health in the year to come.

Meanwhile, let’s return to the saga at hand.  We arrived in Buenos Aires in the late afternoon, arrivalchecked into our hotel, and within 15 minutes were being picked up for a 3-hour tour of the city. I often find that the best way to get a sense of a new place, especially if  I don’t have a lot of time to spare,  is by taking a quick tour. We saw all of the sectors of town, were able to figure out where we’d like to focus the rest of our time, and came back to the hotel for a well-needed nap.  That’s David standing in front of the plaza where the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo still assemble each Thursday to protest the loss of loved ones called Desaparecidos (disappeared ones) during the Dirty War, a bleak moment in Argentina’s history. 

On a lighter note, below is a picture of me with an open aluminum sculpture – behind me (it closes every night, opens every morning); this link (Floralis Generica) will show you what it looks like closed.  It’s just one of the many amazing things in Buenos Aires.

ba-2  flower-open
After our city tour we returned to the hotel and the concierge confirmed David’s choice for a restaurant (La Brigada, in San Telmo; he did lots of paradehomework before this trip to find the perfect parilla for us) and we headed out at about 9 p.m., which is quite early for ‘porteños’ (that’s the Spanish term for folks who live in Buenos Aires – given that it’s a port city).  We had to wait about 45 minutes for a table so wandered out and right into some kind of wild parade coming down the street.  By 10 p.m. we were seated and found ourselves totally stumped by the menu.  We were lucky though; there was a young couple from somewhere in the US at the next table who guided us through ordering. We had a great meal, a wonderful bottle of Malbec Terrazas Reserva and then had a great night’s sleep.

Sunday dawned full of expectation. Yikes!  I think that slowly I’m learning (Lesson #5?) that there’s no quicker way to disappointment than having expectations … and measuring happiness by how closely reality matches the expectations …  especially when you’re sort of keeping them in your heart and not sharing them with the other folks who are a part of the experience.  Let me share with you how I came to this realization today.

running-dDavid started his first full day in Buenos Aires doing one of the things he likes to do most; having a run (we’d discovered Urban Running Tours a few weeks before we left and booked a run for him) and I did a workout in the hotel gym. I also did some meditating and stretching (I’ve got a new plan for dealing with plantar fascitis which requires lots of meditation and stretching)  Somehow in the midst of doing this I’d managed  – although I didn’t know I’d done this until David got back and discovered it – to spill some coffee on our new camera .  I hope that my brother-in-law Dan who generously gave us this wonderful camera isn’t going to read this (I think he won’t but if you know him please don’t share this tale with him.  Thanks.)  We didn’t know how bad it was until we’d walked to what used to be the Israeli Embassy; it was bombed israeli-embassy-sitein 1982 and since it was just around the corner from our hotel seemed like the appropriate first stop.  When I took out the camera to take a photo the screen was multicoloured and there was clearly a lot of moisture inside the camera.  Back to the hotel, talk to the concierge  who fortunately knew a lot about cameras and also knew that no camera stores were open that day – and on his advice I then sat for about 20 minutes with the camera and a hair dryer gently trying to warm it up to dissipate the moisture. Mostly it worked, but it didn’t finally get cleared until we were having lunch later in the day tango-in-the-streetand I placed it on the table in the sunshine (34 degrees that day) to dry out. We spent the day walking through the city, through San Telmo market which is blocks and blocks of outdoor stalls selling everything imaginable and dotted with tango dancers, live statues, and amazing bands playing on the street.  human-statue-san-telmo2Still in “don’t over-consume mode” all I bought was a little wallet to use when travelling, some coasters with images of tango dancers, and 3 CDs of fabulous Argentine music. We walked back to the hotel, showered, changed, and were picked up again at 8:30 to go to a tango dinner show.   After a full day, we were home around midnight.

So, where does the disappointment come into this (back to Lesson #5)?

Early in the day, with thoughts of my camera destroyed, my heart was sinking.  This was supposed to be a wonderful day and instead I was facing camera ruin.  The whole point of having this new camera (it’s a Canon G10 and quite remarkable … thank you to Dan once again.  Ssshhhh!!!) was to take great photos in Antarctica and now I’d ruined it.  There would be no photos at all.  How could I have done such a stupid thing?  Why can’t things just go smoothly for me?  I’m not supposed to be spending the morning in my hotel bathroom drying out a camera!  I’m guessing you’re catching the drift by now; I was rapidly being reduced to a pile of self-pity pudding.  Even when we finally headed out for the day my heart was skimming along the ground.  It took a couple of hours of walking before I started to realize that although this wasn’t turning out the way I’d imagined, I was having an amazing and wonderful day.  And this is the tyranny of expectations.  I imagine things one way and as soon as it starts unfolding a different way I’m mired in despair.  This has always been a struggle for me.  I think that finally, after all these years, I’m figuring it out.  Limit expectations.  Allow things to unfold as they choose to.

I’m really going to focus on this lesson for a while.  I’m not going to lay out a plan for each day ahead; I’m going to have some rough ideas about what I’d like to do and then just let things unfold as they will.  I might not always achieve what I’ve set out to achieve, but I’m guessing I’ll have a better time along the way.  What do you think?


5 responses to “Those expectations will get you every time (… and Buenos Aires, 1st day)

  1. Well that sounds like my plan, “living in the now”.

    My mother had dementia and that was the only way for her to live! I was initially upset because I saw her changed life as such a loss for her and us, but realized that this is how cats live, how wild ducks live. They hang out, enjoying the moment. We don’t feel sorry for them; we admire them!

    Now that I am retired I am doing a lot of this, noticing things I never had time to notice: the reflections on a wet road at night, the pattern of tree branches, the ticking of my house, etc.

    On another note, how about putting those “Lessons” into a list?

    • Sylvia Bereskin

      Wow, Jeannie, one of the things I admire the most is the ability to look at something and see the positive in it. David’s mother was cognitively impaired for a number of years and I always thought that, as the Aussies say, she’d “gone to live with the fairies” and seemed to be quite content. It is about living in the moment for sure.

      I like your idea of putting the “lessons” into a list; maybe that’s going to be part of the book eventually; a book that will undoubtedly be better because of the terrific comments I get.

  2. Sylvia, that is a good lesson, and your pics are fabulous!

  3. Back in Oz now, looking at our photos and thinking of our new friends. Was the only unplanned excitement going to be stuck in the lift with Sylvia and David? No. Our plane to Dallas airport had an emergency landing at Panama, seems there was fuel leaking from one tank. The wonderful joys of travel, new places, new faces and the unexpected.

    • Sylvia Bereskin

      Glad you’re home now Donna and wonderful to have you here. Fuel leaking! You see, this is what I meant about best to not have expectations … even if they’re about something you think as “safe” as having the fuel tanks on your plane properly serviced.

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