When I was a child, my mom, step-father, and I would take long car trips to visit relatives.
My step-father was all about making time, so stops were infrequent. Sight-seeing was unheard of, and the few stops for eating and bathroom breaks were fast and furious. It was awful.
Fast forward to my adulthood. For our family trips, I planned stops at every tourist trap, scenic overview, and wide spot in the road I could find. I wanted the trip to be about the journey not just the destination.
If only I could translate that concept to my day-to-day life.
I find myself singularly focused on events. Be it a family reunion, Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas, or even a doctor’s appointment. I plan everything around that one event at the expense of my every day life.
I wake up thinking about the event. I plan my activities around the event. I hurry through meals, grocery store trips, errands, all so I can get back to focusing on the event.
The event could be months away, but it is still my priority. Everything is purchased, planned, obsessed over, and singled out to make this event a success.
The pressure becomes enormous.
The day of the event arrives and I’m busy fretting and fussing. All must be perfect.
Inevitably, something is forgotten, goes contrary to plan, or is just a dud. Stuff happens.
I crumble. All is lost. I have failed. I ruminate over ‘what could have been’ for weeks.
Here I am, fifty-something, and I’m just now realizing that I’m missing out on the journey by fixating on the destination. A destination that I balloon into an unrealistic and over-the-top fulfiller of joy and satisfaction.
I’ve been rushing through my life to get to these special occasions, only to watch them fall flat under the pressure I’ve piled on them.
The next occasion I experience is going to be as low-key and as spontaneous as possible. No more micro-managing and no more unrealistic expectations of grandeur.
Let the journey begin.