Welcome to Holland

I used to be a BIG planner. Agendas and calendars were my bibles. I believed that if I could control my week, my day, my moment, then I would feel safe and secure. I made plans, lists, set goals and prided myself on my laser focus. In short, I was very much like the woman in the story below until the day when I woke up in Holland. On that day, I realized that I had a choice:

Mourn the loss of Italy forever or learn to explore, appreciate and love Holland. Happiness is a choice, a realization that what you have is perfect, even if not your plan.



Welcome to Holland


There was a woman who dreamed of Italy. Her greatest desire was to travel and see the world. By the world, she meant Italy. She dreamed of visiting this beautiful country so she began to plan and prepare. Her every waking moment was consumed in this dream and Italy became the world to her. She took Italian classes so that she could speak the melodious language. She worked two jobs, denied herself everyday pleasures and saved every penny. She scrimped and sacrificed for years. Her family and friends tired of her constant talking about Italy and stopped inviting her to family functions, parties and functions. She did not care and continued on her path of reading everything she could about Italy to the exclusion of everything else, daydreaming at work about Italy and talking only about Italy. Finally, the big day arrived and the woman got on a plane for Italy. For the whole trip she listened with her earphones to Italian music and ignored everything else around her.


When the plane landed, she took off her earphones just in time to hear the pilot announce "Welcome to Holland”.


The woman started and cried out “No, not Holland, Italy” She began to scream and cry, refusing to believe that she was in Holland. The flight attendants assured her that indeed she was in Holland. Such a beautiful and interesting country. She will love it. “Just give it a chance”, they advise. The woman does not hear a word they say and continues to scream and cry.


She continued to do so as she was escorted off the Plane and through the Airport and while collecting her luggage. She cried harder, tore at her hair and screamed unintelligibly as she was bundled into a taxi by a porter. She did not look out the window as the taxi began to drive through the city roads. She did not see the blue sky or the architecture or the city views. She continued to scream as the taxi passed the magnificent old palace that houses the train center and began to weave in and out of small cobblestone streets, canals, bridges, bicycle riders, quaint shops, tall narrow houses and outdoor cafes. The day was clear, bright and sunny as she stumbled out of the taxi into a hotel that bears the same chain name as the one in Italy. She screamed at the man behind the counter that this is not fair, this is not Italy. The man agreed that this is not Italy, but it is beautiful and different and a part of the world that she has never seen. Perhaps she would like to explore this part of the world and find out what it had to offer. “Taste the local tastes, drink the local drinks, it was Tulip season, perhaps stroll through Tulip gardens, the weather was lovely, Holland was a wonderful place to walk through and explore. It was just another part of the world.” The man tried and tried to convince the woman but she just continued to cry. She snatched the key from him and ran to her room, closed the curtains, locked the door, threw herself on the bed and cried for two weeks. She never even left her room. She left for the Airport and her return flight home without ever tasting Hollandse Nieuwe or Stroopwafel or Kroket or Patat or Dutch beer, without ever strolling through the narrow winding streets or crossing the canals or exploring the unique and fun nightlife. She cried the whole way home.


Life doesn’t always follow our plan. Life does not always adhere to our wishes and desires. But that doesn't mean that Life can’t be wonderful and magical anyway.The key is to embrace and enjoy whatever and wherever Life takes you. Maybe you will end up in Holland or rural Ohio instead of Italy. Welcome to wherever you live. Maybe you will have one child instead of the two that you always dreamed of and planned for. You bought a house with an extra bedroom for that second child that you long for. But that Child is not meant for you. What do you do with that extra room? Will you cry and curse your fate each time you pass that room or do you turn it into a cozy, loving space for your family? Welcome to your family. Maybe you will end up in Job X when you really want Job Z. By all means, work and plan and fight for your dreams but know that what is meant to be yours will come to you. Enjoy the moment. Enjoy the experience that Life offers you. Welcome to your life. Be where you are: otherwise you will miss your life. (Buddha)