When you don’t live anywhere near an ocean, and the snow is so high you can build an igloo the size of Trump Tower, and you travel on Christmas day because all you want is to see the ocean – a room without a view is like an amusement park without a ride.
I had a view, of course. Even a brick wall could be considered a view, right? Okay, it wasn’t that bad. The hotel pool and bar isn’t as bad as a brick wall. Although a brick wall doesn’t make any noise.
It was fine though, because the beach was steps away from the hotel and the view doesn’t get any better than that. I was there before the first wave hit the shore in the morning.
I broke the rules and moved my chair away from all the others and set it as close to the shore as I could, without getting wet. I brought a book to read, but why bother? The shimmery golden-blue ripples were too distracting. Besides, my muscles were melting fast, so holding a book was too much work.
I heard them coming minutes before they arrived.
Four women, armed with plastic buckets and shovels. I smiled. How cute, they were going to build a sand castle.
They scanned the area for the perfect piece of land.
“Oh, this is it girls!” the forewoman proclaimed when she found it. She waved the others over and they laid their equipment down.
Right in front of my chair. Directly in front of my chair.
I looked around the beach. It was lightly scattered with people. There was space everywhere! “Why would they pick this particular space, my space?” I couldn’t help thinking. I don’t own the beach, I get it, but…
I sat back and tried to relax as they negotiated the design of their sandcastle. Since I couldn’t see in front of me and I couldn’t hear the waves crashing in the same way, I thought, “Well, I can always read until their done.”
But that felt wrong to me. I came here for the view, and I had a right to it. I also had a right to be kind to myself, and this time, that meant speaking up. Obviously they were unaware that they were in my space and how it affected me.
“Excuse me,” I began. When I had their attention I said, “Would it be possible for you to build your sandcastle somewhere else? I can’t see the beautiful view anymore.” I smiled the whole time, showing rudeness wasn’t involved in this.
“Oh, sure, we can move,” the forewoman said. She and the others looked at me, expressionless, then walked to the left without another word.
They moved three feet away. But it was enough so that I could see in front of me.
When they were done with their sandcastle I overheard their conversation. “Where should we put our chairs?” one asked. “I don’t know, as long as we don’t sit next to that bitch,” said another.
I knew they were talking about me. I looked at them. Sure enough, four pairs of eyes were on me.
I was more shocked than angry, but I was angry. “How am I a bitch?” I thought. “Because I asked for what I wanted? Because I spoke up?” I wanted to run over there and kick their sandcastle over! But I sat tight.
After I calmed down, I realized that their reaction is common. So often, instead of going inside ourselves when we feel uncomfortable, we lash out instead. Usually, we lash out at the one that “caused” the uncomfortable feelings. It’s so easy to “react” instead of “reflect”. It takes great restraint to sit with your feelings before making a move. But when you do, logic has room to enter, which is why I didn’t knock over their sandcastle!
I can’t say what these women were feeling, maybe indignation at being confronted, or hurt because I didn’t want them “near me”, but if they had gone “inside” for a bit, they could have dealt with their feelings and left me out of it. After all, I’m an innocent catalyst there for their growth, as they are for mine. Why should we give each other any more power than that?
I’m glad I didn’t let those women ruin my day. I wonder how theirs was?
Shared with love by Denise Barry. To learn more about Denise click here.
Hi I’m Karen Salmansohn, founder of NotSalmon. My mission is to offer you easy-to-understand insights and tools to empower you to bloom into your happiest, highest potential self. I use playful analogies, feisty humor, and stylish graphics to distill big ideas – going as far back as ancient wisdom from Aristotle, Buddhism and Darwin to the latest research studies from Cognitive Therapy, Neuro Linquistic Programming, Neuroscience, Positive Psychology, Quantum Physics, Nutritional Studies – and then some.