For 20 years my husband and I had hunted for an Airstream trailer. Not exhaustively or perpetually, but for all that time, I had harbored the fantasy of parking a small, vintage, silver Airstream on our property for a retreat by the lake. A place for listening to the loons and telling stories by the camp fire. As so often happens, the defining parameters of my fantasy were significantly expanded when Jim, my husband, announced that he had purchased a vintage 1977 31’ Airstream Land Yacht that happened to be in exquisite condition.
We would “open up” the retreat each spring, and each winter Jim would cover the Airstream with an immense tarp and secure the perimeter with a series of bungee cords. We would essentially abandon the Pointe to winter, making a brief inspection in November, during deer hunting season, and opening the venue again the following spring.
We lamented the “closing” event, as it signaled the end of the season, and conversely, reveled in the “opening” event, as we longed for spring’s arrival and the advance of blessed summer’s conquest over stubborn winter. Each new trip, from the homestead to the destination Pointe, revealed some subtle nuance that we’ve come to innately recognize as nature’s calendar.
Last year however, the “opening” event carried us to another place. During the winter, kids ice fishing or snowmobiling on the lake must have gotten bored and cured their monotony by finding softball-sized rocks along the shore and smashing out the windows for sport. We were heartbroken and almost dumbfounded at this discovery. Suddenly our sanctuary had been the victim of a physical assault and the psychological innocence was snatched from us with a violence that seemed somehow more personal than was probably intended by the perpetrators. In the 144 years my family has lived on this property, this was the first time we had ever experienced vandalism.
After some serious soul searching directed at how to best identify the culprits, we removed our Airstream for repairs and continued to enjoy the Pointe without the associated beauty and creature comforts of our beloved Airstream. We racked our brains for methods to protect the Pointe, from deer cams to informants, but finally came to the conclusion that we would probably never know who did it and could not risk returning the object of our desire to its remote and unsecured location without unwarranted risk. This troubled us more for the loss of freedom and aesthetic composition than for the actual loss of accommodations or creature comforts. Who would do this and why, to what end, to accomplish what?
Finally we decided that what the vandals had not appreciated was WHO we were and WHAT the Pointe represented. So we erected a sign that reads as follows:
MY ANCESTORS HOMESTEADED THIS, THE MURRAY FARM IN 1868
It has been continuously occupied by our family ever since. You are welcome to enjoy the amenities we have labored on over these many years and hope you appreciate how beautiful they are and what they mean to us. Please do not destroy or damage what you find here, it is important to us and represents many generations and descendants of the Murray Clan. Thank you for understanding.
We are uncertain what the outcome will be or the effectiveness of our strategy. In the end, however, we came to the realization that it is not really ours anyway. We are only the current caretakers and not forgiving these troublemakers, would only cause us grief in the long term. Therefore, we opted for the alternative: inclusion.
At the heart of the issue, I’ve noticed there is a correlation between this event and events that transpire in the workplace (and beyond).
How does that same situation confront us every single day in our work life? Do we hold a grudge for a slight, whether real or perceived? Do we help a struggling colleague, or choose to let them fail for self-promotion? Do we ask a fellow co-worker how we can help when we know they are confronted with a personal issue or simply go about our idiosyncratic world oblivious to those in need around us? Do we seek to understand before placing judgment?
We can’t always change the outcome and we certainly can’t turn back the clock. But we can change our responses and chose to move forward in a positive way.
In this holiday season, let us let go of past slights, embrace those less than normally embraceable and attempt to reach out and go a bit further, to see our own failings, and not to pass judgment on those around us that may be weighted or challenged, with what we know not.
Happy holidays to everyone, safe travels and may 2013 be a rich and rewarding year for you all! I am thankful for everything I have been blessed with in 2012, even the hard things that hold in them a perspective-altering lesson. These lessons are there to be seen, if we just take the time to look.