Are We There Yet?

roadWhen I was 6, my parents, my sister and I boarded what seemed at the time to be an awesomely amazing Pan Am 747 and returned to the U.S.A. for around 18 months. In our blue Chrysler station wagon (with homemade desks in the back end for doing our school work) we traversed the country, staying in the homes of family and friends or in our Shasta trailer (translation: Australian ‘caravan’).

Those of you who have travelled with young children will know exactly how this went.

Driving through high mountain passes, in between majestic snow-capped mountain peaks, whose sides were splattered with aspen trees decked out in the brightest autumn colours . . .

“Are we there yet?”

Crossing a mountain stream whose babbling waters cascaded through the valley like a string of diamonds in the autumn sunlight . . .

“Are we there yet?”

Winding our way through a canyon with sheer, red cliffs rising on both sides, the clear blue sky creating a picture worthy of the world’s highest-esteemed gallery . . .

“Are we there yet?”

As a few elk meandered across a snowy meadow in the moonlight . . .

“Are we there yet?

As yachts moved gracefully through the dancing waves of Lake Michigan . . .

“Are we there yet?”

In the stillness of a forest, with the verdant greenery encapsulating our car in the dappled, dewy morning light . . .

“Are we there yet?”

I was destination-driven. I had a single-track focus. Riding in the back of our family car was an inconvenience that I had to endure on the way to the ultimate goal: grandma’s house, Disneyland, camping with my aunts and uncles, or wherever the journey ended.

But what if . . .? What if I noticed the patterns of sunlight through the trees? What if I actually enjoyed watching the glorious mountain scenery as drove all too swiftly through it? What if I stopped to feel the fresh breeze as it bounced off the blue water? What if the journey was the goal, not the destination?

There are so many clichéd lines written about ‘journey.’ This metaphor has become somewhat part of an Oprahfied motivational vocabulary that we pass back and forth on Facebook in an attempt to appear to our friends to be wiser and deeper than we actually are.

“Sooner or later we must realize there is no station, no one place to arrive at once and for all. The true joy of life is the trip.” — Robert J. Hastings

“Life is a journey that have a lot different paths, but any path you choose use it as your destiny.” ― Ryan Leonard

“It is better to travel well than to arrive.” — Arthur C. Custance

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” ― Henry Miller

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” ― Lao Tse

“Not all those who wander are lost.”  ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

“The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we stand as in what direction we are moving.” ― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive, and the true success is to labour.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

“Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.”— Sir Winston Churchill

“I took the road less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.”— Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken

The reality is that we are all travelling. We all have our own version of the travel journal.

High School Graduation.

“Are we there yet?”

Meeting our one true Love.

“Are we there yet?”

Marriage.

“Are we there yet?”

Birth of our first child.

“Are we there yet?”

Finally getting that promotion at work.

“Are we there yet?”

Buying our first home.

“Are we there yet?”

Taking our child to school for the first day.

“Are we there yet?”

Landing that new job and moving house.

“Are we there yet?”

Taking that first big overseas holiday.

“Are we there yet?”

And so it goes, day after day, year after year.

I know. I’ve been there. I’ve done that. “Just one more mountain.” “It’s just beyond the next bend.”

What if we find that we have been ‘there’ all along, and that what we have experienced is of far greater importance than the point where our travels end.

What if our biggest challenge for the part of our journey called ‘today’ is to be fully present, to explore, appreciate, and enjoy what we encounter instead of being the one in the back seat who, every five minutes, pipes up with the refrain, “Are we there yet?”

We may just stumble across–

the beautiful,

the glorious,

the majestic,

the refreshing,

the abundant,

the breathtaking

and far, far more than we ever dared to expect.

We may just find that, “The journey is the reward.”

Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me

Our baby girl turns 18 on Monday. Wow! It’s really hard to believe. It seems like just yesterday we brought her home from hospital, took her to her first day of school, saw her land her first job, taught her to drive . . .

It seems quite coincidental that today Vicki found this remarkable post “18 Things I Wish Someone Told Me when I was 18” at Marc and Angel Hack Life. Here’s a part of it:

1. Commit yourself to making lots of mistakes. – Mistakes teach you important lessons.  The biggest mistake you can make is doing nothing because you’re too scared to make a mistake.  So don’t hesitate – don’t doubt yourself.  In life, it’s rarely about getting a chance; it’s about taking a chance.  You’ll never be 100% sure it will work, but you can always be 100% sure doing nothing won’t work.  Most of the time you just have to go for it!  And no matter how it turns out, it always ends up just the way it should be.  Either you succeed or you learn something.  Win-Win.  Remember, if you never act, you will never know for sure, and you will be left standing in the same spot forever.

2. Find hard work you love doing. – If I could offer my 18-year-old self some real career advice, I’d tell myself not to base my career choice on other people’s ideas, goals and recommendations.  I’d tell myself not to pick a major because it’s popular, or statistically creates graduates who make the most money.  I’d tell myself that the right career choice is based on one key point: Finding hard work you love doing.  As long as you remain true to yourself, and follow your own interests and values, you can find success through passion.  Perhaps more importantly, you won’t wake up several years later working in a career field you despise, wondering “How the heck am I going to do this for the next 30 years?”  So if you catch yourself working hard and loving every minute of it, don’t stop.  You’re on to something big.  Because hard work ain’t hard when you concentrate on your passions.

3. Invest time, energy and money in yourself every day. – When you invest in yourself, you can never lose, and over time you will change the trajectory of your life.  You are simply the product of what you know.  The more time, energy and money you spend acquiring pertinent knowledge, the more control you have over your life.

4. Explore new ideas and opportunities often. – Your natural human fears of failure and embarrassment will sometimes stop you from trying new things.  But you must rise above these fears, for your life’s story is simply the culmination many small, unique experiences.  And the more unique experiences you have, the more interesting your story gets.  So seek as many new life experiences as possible and be sure to share them with the people you care about.  Not doing so is not living.

5. When sharpening your career skills, focus more on less. – Think in terms of Karate: A black belt seems far more impressive than a brown belt.  But does a brown belt really seem any more impressive than a red belt?  Probably not to most people.  Remember that society elevates experts high onto a pedestal.  Hard work matters, but not if it’s scattered in diverse directions.  So narrow your focus on learning fewer career related skills and master them all.

6. People are not mind readers.  Tell them what you’re thinking. – People will never know how you feel unless you tell them.  Your boss?  Yeah, he doesn’t know you’re hoping for a promotion because you haven’t told him yet.  That cute girl you haven’t talked to because you’re too shy?  Yeah, you guessed it; she hasn’t given you the time of day simply because you haven’t given her the time of day either.   In life, you have to communicate with others.  And often, you have to open your vocal cords and speak the first words.  You have to tell people what you’re thinking.  It’s as simple as that.

Read the entire post here.

Why didn’t anyone tell us these things when we turned 18? Did our folks’ generation assume we must somehow learn these things only by our own experience? I know we possibly wouldn’t have listened anyway, but just to have these messages of potentiality and hope would be a push in the right direction.

And so we let Emily go into the wide adult world, knowing we have done our best to show her the way. One thing for which I am so grateful is that we helped her to be an independent thinker and to question everything–not for the sake of questioning itself, but for the exercise in developing a critical mind and perhaps some good ol’ common sense.

We know she’ll make mistakes, fail, fall, be afraid at times, break down. . . . But we are confident that she will also soar, succeed, grow, mature, be strong, strive to reach her potential and, most importantly, develop those values that will make her life count for something for herself, her friends, her community and her God.