About a week ago, I was just wrapping up a five-day vacation in Cancun. I was lucky to have a friend getting married there (and I got to be one of her bridesmaids!), which of course gave us all an excuse to go on vacation at a beautiful resort.
I wanted to blog almost immediately after coming back, but I forced myself to give it a week or so to digest the thoughts that overwhelmed my mind. Everyone kept asking, “How was Cancun?” and it was easy to give the generic answer: “It was awesome. It was so beautiful. It was relaxing. It was amazing.” But the thing is, this vacation was so much more than that, and so much more than I had expected. I came back not only physically and mentally refreshed; I also came back with my heart overwhelmed by gratitude for my life.
That might sound kind of dramatic (consistent with my personality), but let me explain. While we were at the all-inclusive resort, our every need and want was catered to and waited on. The people of Mexico were kind, cheerful and so hospitable during our stay there, whether it was at the hotel itself or on a tour bus to the Chichen Itza. For all the great service we had during our time there, however, there was also a nagging thought at the back of my mind: B and I were totally conscious of the fact that the standard of living for some of the people there was so far in contrast to the luxury we were enjoying during our all-inclusive vacation. We saw it in the men, women, and children walking up and down the beaches trying to sell us purses and bracelets; we saw it in the tour guides and performers who hoped graciously for tips; we saw it in the street vendor at Chichen Itza who had so much competition and was desperate for a sale.
It tugged on my heartstrings a little bit and almost made me uneasy – I felt guilty bargaining with the street vendor when a $5 difference probably meant much more to him than to me. But I was humbled to see the cheerful spirits of most people we came across; for all my worries about a “lacking” standard of living, my arrogant pity at seeing the tour guide change into a frayed shirt after his job – I realized that these people shone with positive attitudes, embodied on happier faces than many I see in my day-to-day life in New York City.
Even though I don’t know whether or not these people were actually happy – for all I know, maybe they were just really good at putting on a positive front – the happiness of those who I perceived to have “less” than me, in turn, made me so grateful for what I have in my life today.
So that’s what I came back with: renewed gratitude for what I have in my life, as it is now. Too often, I’m complaining. I’m dissatisfied, I’m annoyed, I’m jealous. I’m all these negative feelings that are completely unwarranted. They say that one habit of people who are happy is that they remember to be thankful, and I think that’s the reason I’ve felt so refreshed and genuinely happy after my Cancun vacation: it reminded me to be thankful. I’m thankful for my family and my friends, for the love that they give me even when I’m at my worst. I’m thankful for my education, my job and the opportunities that have come with both. I’m thankful to be living in such a cool city, one that people come from all over the world to visit. I’m thankful for my hobbies, my upbringing, my life.
I would say this is the best souvenir I could have brought back. Thankful for this vacation and especially thankful for my friends Chrissy and John, whose beautiful wedding and steadfast love just filled my heart with so much happiness!