Last year I penned the following before heading off to the Olympics. OK, I did not actually do this with a pen, I just thought I would toss in one of those figures of speech we rarely use anymore. Anyway, it was an excellent journey and we crossed another event off the bucket list. It was actually much higher on my friend’s list than mine, but as usual, we found we enjoyed every bit of it. I have learned in recent years the importance of the journey as much or even more than the destination.
With all the one year anniversary postings of London 2012 around the internet, I decided to look back at what I wrote. Usually if I repost, I do not change anything, unless I find some glaring mistake. This time, however, I rewrote some lines that did not sound right to my ear and offended my eyes. The original is in the archives as:
It’s the journey
You may have grown up with the belief that it really is all about the destination. That leads to the favorite question of parents, “Are we there yet?” I guess our parents are to blame for that as they would always sell us on the idea of the destination, never the journey. The trip was all about the beach, the dunes, the Dells (Wisconsin, if you are not from this area), maybe even Disneyland, or Disney World. It certainly was never about “What in the world will we give those kids to do for 14 hours while we drive to Aunt Hilda’s hideaway?” It may be easier these days with video games and dvd players but that only reduces, never eliminates, the driver’s refrain, “Don’t make me have to come back there,” or “knock it off or I’ll turn this car around.” What parents may forget is the kids might actually be thinking, “YES! Let’s turn this car around, I have a baseball game tomorrow.” They did not want to take the trip anyway. Aunt Hilda’s was never worth 14 hours by car, train or plane.
In a larger philosophical or theological sense, I suppose it is about the destination. Considering the extreme choices we are presented, we would like to end up at the right destination. If you give it a little extra thought, however, you will realize that only a good journey will lead you to the best destination. You have to make your one journey count, there is no turning the car around if you end up in the wrong place. Sorry, when you get to the Hotel California, you will not be going further.
As this is the case, doesn’t all the time count, especially the many hours we spend going to and from wherever it is we are going to and from? I admit that it is late that I come to this realization. As the years went on I thought it was always best to fly to and from the destination if that would truly get us there faster. This method, of course, means you get to see little of what is in between. The destination city, destination event, concert, game, or attraction were all important to me, but for some reason taking a thousand pictures were never high priority to me as they are for some. Hence, the memories are just in my brain and colored the way I like. I think my brother spent some vacations taking so many pictures that he did not actually see very much when he finally got to wherever he and his family were going.
Some of my European friends, one in particular, have helped me to see that life is not about some journeys we may take, but that it is all a journey, everything. It’s the travel, the sights, the camaraderie, the conversation, the smiles and the laughs that matter. It is the joy to “eat local, drink local” and taste new things. It is the total experience of going, staying, returning. Imagine how much we cheat ourselves out of when we start out with only the destination in mind. The journey itself presents great things to see and experience and the rest of the time is not idle time. For our car trips we have our favorite music. An American road trip meant America’s greatest hits (as in the band America) as well as rock of more recent vintage. There was never enough time along the way for our discussion of sports, politics, music, American culture, French culture, German culture, British culture. In recent years, it seemed like time went by so quickly, and never did it seem like we spent too much time in railroad stations or airports, although we may have encountered delays there. How much better I know my friend for having time between the starting point and destination.
So the latest trip is another opportunity for great adventure. Years ago I would have said something like “London? During the Olympics? Are you crazy?” Now I see it as a another chance for time with a great friend, so why not? Battling the crowds and standing in the que to get into or out of wherever will just be part of it. It will not be lost time, but more time to “people watch” or share thoughts about almost anything. It does not matter the topic, actually. As this gets published in cyberspace, we are on our way into Stansted airport for a couple of days of excitement. Volleyball and basketball are on the agenda. We will see France vs Argentina and USA vs Tunisia (I wonder which one thinks this is a bad draw in the prelim?). Hopefully we will see friends and enjoy food at a pub stop. OK, strike that, pubs might be the best place to eat in England but…oh, it’s all good, nevermind. This may be our only Olympics, so we will enjoy every bit of the journey. As we are flying from Baden-Baden, Germany back to London, I swear I will not turn to my friend and ask, “Are we there yet?” Besides, London is just a stop on the journey. After that it is back to Germany and on to France. I will bring back a picture or two as a reminder until the following adventure, whatever that may be.