The Journey Is For Enjoying

Yesterday I presented to the NYS AHPERD Conference for health and physical education teachers, in Verona, NY.  My talk is focused on creating a movement for bigger picture view of human movement.  It means a great deal that I’m able to give back to that organization and inspire physical educators, but it was the rest of the day that I enjoyed the most.

Thanks, Google image for this!
Thanks, Google image for this!

The 500 mile trip from New York City to Verona and back included 8.5 driving hours, during which I listened to an audiobook, several podcasts, and most importantly, sang along to several songs at the top of my lungs. It’s not always about doing more, but about getting more from what you’re doing.

Solo road trips always tend to put things in perspective for me, to see something bigger. Next time you find yourself ‘stuck’ feeling like there’s more out there, take a step back to see the bigger picture. Too often, we exchange that big picture for collecting smaller ones.

Think about the modern Conquistadors.  The people that want to be the most powerful, with the most money, the biggest records, to acquire money, land, and business, to be the best.  I ask you: What happens when you have it?

Nothing, really.  You have it.  If there’s more, you get more.  But that’s really it.  I don’t think that anything substantial comes of just getting more things.

I do think that what’s substantial is appreciating the process of getting those things.  This is when “acquiring wealth” is not about money, but experiences.  It’s about the ongoing, everlasting act of becoming better.  Before we can understand that, we have to understand that everyone is running their own race.  Let’s call it a sonder:

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As each and every one of us have our own story, you can get that your paths will cross will a great deal of people.  The Journey isn’t about being the best, or better than, or even finishing it.  It’s simpler than that:

The Journey is for enjoying.

We humans are drawn to our goals and our planning, which has helped bring us to where we are today.  It has also helped us cultivate this yes/no, success/failure society which stifles the pleasure that the Journey offers us.

Recently a series of articles have covered the “Top 5 Regrets” or “Wishes” made by those on their deathbed, and the list does not cover the quests of modern Conquistadors:

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

I doubt that very many people mentioned that they wish they had taken better advantage of their tax bracket, or hit that 300lb bench press before it was too late.  No, we struggle with contextualizing all of it.

See, contributing to your 401k to get your match, or completing a 12-week training program to reach your physical goals is pretty damn important.  They bring us comfort and confidence, and help us feel accomplished.  But accomplishment exists on a scale, and we often lack the ability to step back and see a bigger picture.

The retirement fund doesn’t matter if it’s not time well spent, and the health or hotness that we strive for doesn’t matter if we’re not living more fulfilling lives.  All that is gold does not glitter, my friends.

Among the young and energized in New York City, it seems to me that sometimes we give our bodies the say spreadsheet treatment that the rest of our lives receive.  Calories are balanced like a checkbook, all night life is planned 6 weeks in advance, and any invitation receives a “No!” if it means we can’t try the newest exercise we saw on Men’s Health.

When that’s the case, this is what our lives become:

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That’s not a journey that seems particularly enjoyable, or one that I believe we’re excited to share with those in our lives.  Sometimes we see this, and we strive for more.  Other times, we put on blinders, and we just share less.  We stand in the way of our own happiness when we’re not actively enjoying the Journey.

As I passed cars on the ride home last night, I thought not, “I wonder where they’re going” but, “I wonder if they’re having this much fun.”

If we’re asking that question more, then we’ll enjoy the Journey more.  It’s not about being better than someone else, but about having a better time than your last experience.  That’s where the magic happens.

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