The afternoon started well. My wife and I were excited to get out of the house and head to downtown and meander around Oktoberfest Zinzinnati. We have gone to the festival for decades. It’s the second-largest Oktoberfest in the world next to Munich !! The weather was magnificent. The skies were bright blue with some wispy clouds here and there. Mostly we had bright sunshine lighting the way.
We parked several blocks away and were making our way to the actual festival surrounded by people also heading in the same direction. We moved with ease for about four blocks until we passed the official area sectioned off for the event. The flow came to an abrupt halt and we found ourselves shoulder to shoulder with thousands of strangers all taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of the gathering celebrating German heritage.
I was IN my element. Debbie was not. Whenever I can immerse myself in the midst of a giant throng of people, I feel at ease. It helps that I’m a tall person who can easily see above the crowd and make out where I can go. My wife is taller than average, so that isn’t an issue. She often says she can spot me as I make my way around so she rarely feels lost.
We attempted to make the same movements everyone else was trying to make all at the same time. You try to take in the different food and drink booths to both see what they’re offering and try to decide what you’d like to purchase. Off of the primary street of 5th Avenue are side streets also filled with booths, bands, and places to sit and eat. Remember, there are literally thousands of people in this relatively small six to eight-block area. This is not typically what happens in downtown Cincinnati. We’re not Manhattan.
I love taking in the energy, listening to the various conversations, and throwing myself deeply into one of my favorite activities – people-watching. I can lose myself in trying to take in every moment and interaction. It’s like an endless funnel of stimulation. My wife enjoys the same thing . . . for awhile.
She loves going to events and prefers we have a plan and a purpose while going. She wants to see everything and also make sure we actually eat and drink. Those are critical, but she needs to pull me out of the “people cloud” to keep me focused to make sure those activities actually occur. I would be content just wandering and watching. She is also very aware of her environment and reminds me to look down so I don’t miss steps, weave into oncoming traffic, or run into other people.
We did make our way through the mass of humanity as we went down one side of the line of booths. We also made some stops to get those essential sustenance items including sausages, adult beverages, and the must-have cream puff !! Fortunately, we also had an oasis provided by the Chamber of Commerce. We could step away from the melee and enjoy some shade and have a place to rest and sit.
After we had a respite in our oasis, I felt the urge to jump back out into the fray. We just participated in the World’s Largest Chicken Dance (it’s a mandatory experience of Oktoberfest), and my wife was hesitant but obliged. We were going to get a few other items to eat and drink. What we didn’t count on was that the crowd had multiplied. It seemed like it had tripled at least.
It was a bit difficult working our way through the horde when we first arrived. Now, it was moving at a snail’s pace. You were lucky if you happened to get into a stream of people who weren’t standing in lines. We had gone about a block when I saw the “look” from my wife. We moved off to the side and I asked if she wanted to head back to our oasis while I went back into the swarm of humans.
She seemed relieved and said she would. I wasn’t upset or disappointed. We know how each other ticks. We’ve been in each other’s lives for 35+ years and we’ve learned a very important factor.
We balance each other.
She is more introspective while I’m someone who thrives by being surrounded by others. It’s more than being extroverted or introverted. Those are facts and that’s one of the many facets that makes us who we are. Instead of trying to shape one another into our particular approach to life, we have a natural push and pull that meets in the middle more often than not.
Our relationship is how I wish all relationships would work – especially in the workplace. Instead of everyone trying to make others assimilate to their own approach, we should allow for balance. We need to quit getting frustrated when others aren’t like us and come to terms that we will never be alike. We shouldn’t be. There’s far more value to each person living as who they are.
This week look for balance in the interactions you encounter. You’ll find that it’s much healthier when you do !!