I have been traveling through the Northern part of Italy with my son, for the past several days. During that week, many things happened in a different way than we had planned. We took roads not knowing where they would lead us, we ate and drank food that we had not tasted before, we experienced some puzzling interactions, we dove with gusto into a new language, and I drove us through two-way streets that barely looked wide enough for one tiny Fiat.
Yesterday, we arrived at the last Airbnb of our journey together, back in France, and it became quickly apparent that the host provided neither sheets nor towels. We were tired, the guy was more than slightly condescending, and well, I was a bit triggered. He offered to rent us some sheets for 10 euros, and suggested we go buy some towels in town. Oh man, I was not happy. Trying to find bath towels (for which we had no room in our bags) at 7pm proved quite frustrating - and impossible.
And somehow very, very important.
Suddenly, being provided with towels started to feel really imperative. After a long day of driving, I wanted - no, I needed - a clean towel. I could not seem to let my mind unhook from this agreement. Yet, being two days away from starting my Essential Happiness Retreat, I also could not help but notice that I had been caught by just about exactly the kind of stuff I teach people to free themselves from. I noticed, and yet, there I was. Indignant, knowing better, and towel obsessed.
This morning, after some rest, I got out of bed and grabbed the one miniature bar towel tucked in a shelf in the studio. I set it on the tiny sink, and I stepped into the shower with a bottle of shampoo. I washed, I conditioned, I got wet all the way, deciding to enjoy the heck out of the shower. The drying part would be for later.
"Later" came, and I dried myself, head full of hair and all, with that tiny piece of cloth. The window was wide open, the wind was gently blowing, and I could catch a glimpse of the Mediterranean over the rooftops. It took a good while. It left me questionably dry. Then I hung the tiny towel to dry on the rack outside my window. In case I wanted another shower later on.
It was just fine. In fact, it was better than fine. I felt super alive.
Just like most things are just fine, once we decide to let go of the way we think they should be.
Should this host have provided us with towels? Maybe. He certainly did not need to be condescending about it. But then, that's him. And me choosing to let his way of being take away my peace of mind for a couple of hours only robbed me of these two hours. Which I will never get back.
What was I so afraid of? That things were not going to be the way I had envisioned them? That they were not going to be the way they are at home?
Isn't that the whole point of traveling?
To leave our habits behind and experience the fun and stretch of drying ourselves with a postage stamp towel, letting the wind finish the job while looking over at the sea?
This morning, I think it was...
My new book