"How long did it take you?"
In my extended family that is usually the first question one will be asked when completing a long journey. The next question will be, "how was the trip?" but that question is generally a polite after thought.
The first question is the important one to the asker- it is all about timing. Really it is a question of arriving at one's destination quickly and "ahead" of others. There is an unspoken and unrealistic universal competition that one's car needs to arrive at one's destination faster than anyone has done before or humanly possible without getting massive speeding tickets. The other unspoken "truth" is that you must be a fantastic driver to go so fast without detection.
It. drives. me. crazy.
When our immediate family goes on a trip, regardless of the destination we can just count on it taking all day. It is not that we poke along. We drive slightly over the speed limit. We don't make too many stops but certainly we are not going to make ourselves uncomfortable. With our former car, I was convinced that we must've had a wonky speedometer.
If truth be told, I am crazed by the asking because deep down I am frustrated that we didn't "win" the arrival competition. After five hours in the car I am ready to arrive at our destination. Most of the time we are just halfway there. Ugh.
I thought of this last week when I drove down to our son's college to pick him up for spring break. By the speeds at which my fellow travelers passed me, I would surmise that they too will be answering a how long did it take you evaluation at their destination. But what about enjoying the ride? What about the journey is part of the experience? Will I reach my destination less stressed and more refreshed if I am not anxious about overtaking any driver blocking my lane?
I struggle with the getting there fast and the enjoying the ride ideology.
It does translate to our lives. Sometimes we are so anxious to get to the destination that we ignore the time it takes to get there. We miss out on the people along the way, the good and bad experiences or the detours. I think of the times in my life when I had to have a slow down detour. Looking back I see that I eventually got to my destination but just not in my time frame. That detour allowed me to make new friends, deepen current relationship, or see and experience things that I never would've chosen nor done. At the time those detours were just plain inconvenient and uncomfortable. But I see now that they were necessary to shape me into the person I have become- to shape me into appreciating the destination when I finally arrived.
I just need to remember that. I sometimes just want to get to the end whatever that end might be: finish a project, learn and move on from a difficult situation, have someone heal and feel better, wrap things up in a "neat little bow". The thing is, life very rarely works out that way. Especially dealing with people, you can very rarely say, "That crisis or experience is over. No problems now." There will always be something and it is okay.
Just like our family has come to the conclusion that the road trip is part of the whole experience, I need to remember that one's trip through life is the experience. I can't rush it along and I need to embrace every bump in the road. When I accept that our road trips will take all day, I relax into the time. I don't arrive at the destination frazzled. And that is how I want to live my life- with enjoyment of the whole trip.
What about you? Are you a got-to-get-there-at-all costs kind of driver? Do you meander down the rode, stopping at whatever attraction beckons you? What about your journey in life? Do detours and bumps in the road distract you or cause anxiety? What can you do to appreciate your journey?
Do you enjoy the ride?