There may be no better way to start 2024 than to fly out of the country at 6 am on January 1 with my two excitable overgrown offspring and 17 days of foreign discovery ahead.
After 8000 km in the air, 75 km in two different sardined Japanese trains, a quick sleeping pit stop in Shinjuku, followed by a 262 km bus ride West of Tokyo, all with two ski bags, two suitcases and Evie’s pretty pink carry-on, had us in Hakuba after 36 hours on the move.
The optimism wasn’t gone but there was some travel fatigue setting in. The kids were quick to point out that I’d accidentally gone a little too budget on the hotel that would be our home for the next four nights. We settled in a little despondent to reset the following day, but the snow was lacking and plans for Noah to ski with one of his Aussie mates had fallen through. After a “random” breakfast the kids couldn’t stomach, followed by a a long walk in ski boots, Evie wasn’t enjoying skiing on our first morning as it was cold and she was understandably exhausted.
On the Gondola and at lunch, we discussed switching hotels (at a cost) or heading back to Tokyo a day or so early. My personal feeling, which i kept to myself while I was soliciting feedback from the kids, was that we were extremely privileged to be in another country together, in a beautiful ski resort in the middle of our Australian summer. Noah was first to suggest we push on and stay where I’d booked. Evie didn’t object and I was happy with their maturity and contentment.
Let’s make the most of what we’ve got and what we have is much more than many can dream of.
The obstacle is the way.
On the first run after lunch, a young kid dropped his ski pole in front of Noah at the top of a chair lift. Noah picked up the pole, “Here you go, mate!” Through goggled and face-masked eye contact;”Sam?!” “Noah?!”
We’d randomly bumped into the Couterney children who lived across the street from us back home. The happy-switch was instantly flicked in both my deflated kids heads. Noah was keen to show Sam his skiing skills and Evie demonstrate to Chloe that she could also take charge of the mountain and its challenging terrain.
We chose to align with the acceptance of fate and that our perspective shapes our experiences. A dodgy hotel, some fallen through plans and unexpected snow conditions needed to be shaped by a rational and balanced outlook, and the cultivation of resilience in the face of some minor adversity. Focus on what you can control and approach both favorable and unfavorable events with a virtuous and equanimous mindset.
The kids weren’t cold anymore, their boots weren’t hurting, they didn’t even feel tired. Noah and Evie had one of the best afternoons skiing they’d experienced, ripping the mountain with other grommets – all showing off and trying to outdo each other.
When the mountain closed, Noah went back with Sam while Evie and I worked our way back to our “fancy digs” to get a change of clothes so we could join the Courteney’s and other Aussie families for drinks and dinner.
The first bus Evie I and checked as we set foot off the mountain was stopping at one stop, our beloved abode. This was the epic luck we were looking for, Evie was delighted to not walk one more step with her tiny muscular legs in her plastic ridget boots.
Once we got comfy in our apres attire we would find our way to Noah and the crew. We asked an old Japanese man making a delivery to our hotel which direction is best to find a taxi. He didn’t speak a word of English but he could see I had Google maps open and he gestured for us to hop in his tiny little van and he would drive us to where we needed to go. The luck was rolling in and the cute short Japanese man delivered us to the doorstep of where we wanted to be.
We had a great dinner. The kids played pool, video games, did gymnastics and went tobogganing. At the conclusion of the night, they were full of life but ridiculously spent, they didn’t even comment on their favourite hotel in which we returned to sleep.
Oh and guess what? it was snowing. Tomorrow would be a blue-bird powder day!
I absorbed so much content on Stoicism last year that all I learned was at the forefront of my mind while the kids ran the highs and lows of our travel adventure.
FATE: Stoicism emphasizes the idea of accepting the things that are beyond our control, including external events and circumstances. The key Stoic principle related to fate is to focus on what is within your control (your thoughts, actions, and attitudes) and accept with equanimity what is not.
OPTIMISM: Stoicism doesn’t promote blind optimism in the sense of expecting everything to turn out positively. Instead, it encourages a rational and balanced view of the world. The Stoics believed in approaching life with a calm and reasoned mindset, regardless of external circumstances. They advocated for maintaining inner tranquility and virtue even in the face of adversity.
HANDLING ADVERSITY: Stoicism teaches that challenges and difficulties are inevitable parts of life. Instead of being distressed by them, Stoics recommend approaching adversity with resilience and courage. The Stoic philosopher Seneca, for example, wrote extensively on the theme of enduring hardship with a steadfast mind and using challenges as opportunities for personal growth and virtue.
EVERY SITUATION HAS TWO HANDLES:This concept is attributed to the Stoic philosopher Epictetus. He said, “It is not things themselves that disturb people, but the judgments that they form about them.” The idea is that we have the power to choose our perspective and reactions to external events.
Every situation can be approached with a positive or negative mindset. Stoicism encourages us to choose the “handle” or perspective that is more constructive and aligned with virtue.
The Hotel fail has become a positive family joke.
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