My friend, Chris, a great philosopher and teacher extraordinaire, said as a kid, he “honestly thought volcanoes and lava would be a much bigger problem than they turned out to be.” Same. Also haunted furniture and poltergeists. I definitely thought bread would be more expensive and road construction was more of a one-and-done type thing. I also thought songs on the radio were being sung live and singers spent their days traveling from one station to the other to sing their songs. It’s funny how we try to make sense of something we have no context for.
I’m not sure what I thought being an adult meant when I was young, but I’m pretty sure future me was skinner, happier, and had more money in savings. Future me didn’t have to deal with cancer (thyroid…no biggie), or autism (great biggie), or mountain cedar (just let me die, already).
As I’ve gotten older, and life has become dense with context, I’ve tended to think that life is a long, important journey on the way to a very important place. The sooner I can get there, the sooner I can become who I was meant to be. But there’s no map and every road is forked and the farther down the road I travel, the easier it is to lose sight of where I was going. If life is a journey, then I’ve spent most of it looking for the nearest U-turn because I’ve gotten lost again, or I’ve come up on that same roadblock that I could’ve sworn was behind me.
I’m starting to think this very important journey to the very important place isn’t actually taking me anywhere because I’m already there.
What if I just stopped for a second and looked around? What if life isn’t a journey? What if it’s an experience?
My husband and I are planning a trip to Alaska this summer. We’re going to fly to Anchorage and ride trains through the national parks. We even paid a little extra so that we can sit on the top with the glass, domed roof and see everything. The excitement of knowing we’ll get to see things we’ve never seen, and do things we’ve never done is giving me the energy I need to get through these last few weeks of school. I’m not excited about the journey that will get me to Alaska. I have no expectations for the plane ride other than it will probably be long and tedious and kind of miserable. It would be ridiculous of me to hang any expectations on the trip, when it’s simply the means that will get me to the wonder of the experience. I mean…yeah, sure…the trip is important, but it’s part of the experience and no where near the best part.
I think that’s how I should look at life. I think that would take some of the pressure off. Then I wouldn’t have to wait until I reached some unmarked, secret destination to be who I’m meant to be. I can enjoy life more. I can just…be.
Future me will probably be grateful.