Perfecting Fun in Quiet Desperation: A lesson from the London Eye

This post is the fifth in our “England 2015”:/news/category/travel/england-2015/ series.

On our second day in London, we decided to take a trip on the “London Eye”: This giant ferris wheel opened in 2000 and consists of 32 large glass-enclosed capsules that hold up to 25 people each. The view is incredible, and the girls had been drawing pictures of it practically since the moment we announced our plans for the trip. 

The London Eye.

After standing in line for nearly an hour, we boarded a capsule and began counting down our thirty minutes of rotation. I was immediately afflicted with indecision. Which side should we be looking through? Should we try to squeeze in with other families on one side for the view of St. Paul’s Cathedral, or look elsewhere? Should I take photos now? Or perhaps later? Maybe I should just absorb the beauty of the moment? But won’t I wish to have some photos for posterity? How much did this cost again? How can we maximize our enjoyment for these thirty minutes? And is one of our daughters making weird faces over there? 

Rosie sticks out her tongue.

What should have been a lovely family experience was quickly devolving into a stress-party as I pursued an idea of perfection instead of participating in the event. Get a grip, Mama. I took a deep breath and reminded myself to enjoy the present moment. We took a few photos. We looked out the window. The sunset could have been more dramatic, we were getting hungry for dinner, and we wished we had more time at the top of the rotation…but for the most part, we had fun. 

Three Boyd ladies on the Eye.

It turned out that this experience was sort of a parable for our whole trip. I saw how easily I could get twisted into a mentality of scarcity. “This is our once-in-a-lifetime trip to England! We have to make it absolutely and completely amazing because it might not ever happen again!” In those moments when I could feel my perfectionist stranglehold tightening on the fun quotient, I discovered a phrase that dissolved the anxiety, giving me a sense of spaciousness in my soul that I longed for deeply. It was this: 

“We’ll have to do that next time.”

Ann & Jon on the Eye.

Lucy & Rosie.

Simply imagining that there could be future opportunities in London helped me to back off from my ineffective role as Sergeant Fun and receive the goodness of the moment. Muffing an opportunity is no problem if you can believe that the opportunity might arise again.

I’m trying to pull this lesson into my life at home, too. The fact is, each day is precious and unique. A child is 8-years-and-95-days-old just for one day. I am prone to becoming panic-stricken by the thought that I’m missing “the golden years,” whether the children are babies or toddlers or tweens. But the truth is, we’re okay. Even though a day can be pockmarked with angry words or clutter or rushing or all of those at once, we’ll have some more days, Lord willing. And if I can just take a good look at the one we’re in right now, imperfect as it is, maybe I can have a chance at living in peace. 

Perfection is overrated anyway.


Read the next post in our “England 2015”:/news/category/travel/england-2015/ series: Homesick for Cats: Missing Franny and Pepper all over England.

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