Sometimes a journey doesn’t need a destination

We all reach a time when we’re no longer happy where we are. For some it’s just a matter of restlessness, others have grown to a point they need a new challenge, and occasionally it’s just about becoming so uncomfortable where you are that the unknown holds more hope than your present reality. For some of us lucky ones, we’re hit with all three of these motivations.

I come from a family of restless people. My dad grew up in the mission field, so standing still is a relatively new concept for him. My mom grew up in one place and I think had stood still for too long. So I grew up moving around, but never fully understanding the reasonings behind the decisions.

For the most part, I just experienced the consequences of moving, good or bad. I learned how to make new friends. And I learned that friendship isn’t forever, so you have to enjoy every drop of it while you can. I learned that being somewhere new doesn’t mean you’re alone as long as you’re with family. Treating where you live as if you’re just passing through allows you to live like a tourist in your own town. There’s no expectation of “well, next year I’ll check out that festival” because you really never expect to be there next year.

There were definitely some things I missed out on learning though. I’m not that good at fighting for my friendships or making them work long-term. I don’t really know how to settle down without the expectation of leaving. I’m not going to say I learned to run away from my problems, but I did learn that problems stick with you as long as you’re holding on to them.

But now that I’m on the side of making the decisions about whether or not to move, I find there’s so much going on behind the scenes, and I don’t even have kids to worry about (oh, my poor parents). For once in my life I’m seeing the value of hitting the open road. And maybe what’s really important is the change, not necessarily what’s at the end of the map. I’ve learned today, that sometimes just getting in the car is the step that needs to take place.

I have no fear of the destination, or lack thereof. Every city has amazing places to visit, every church has some incredible lessons to teach you. An office will always come with some fun new challenges and some frustrations. And friends can be made anywhere. Every destination is a good destination. And every journey ends somewhere.

Day 5: Look up

Today’s was that day we all look forward to with excitement and anticipation. Jury duty day! I spent hours and hours sitting in a room with 50 strangers to fulfill our civic duty of being there just in case we could participate in the justicial process. Long story short, there was not a single case that required our services. Maybe next time. 
My mood

There was a sort of generation gap in the room. Many people thought to bring books (I’ll admit I was a little jealous), a few ladies even had knitting to work on. Then there were the 35 and unders who were all on electronic devices, myself included. I’m a little awkward in those situations anyway, so any excuse to avoid eye contact is welcome, although after a while I got a little tired of staring down. So I did the unimaginable. I looked up. I couldn’t help but notice some interesting things about my fellow citizens. The room was completely silent. Every once in a while there was a whispered question or “excuse me” as someone got out of their seat to go to the bathroom. There was the occasional whir of the coffee machine, though that may have sounded louder since I was sitting right next to it.

Day 5: Take time to look up at the world around you. Soak it in, observe, draw conclusions, commit some things to memory, let other details stir your imagination, just look around, you don’t need to be entertained every minute of the day. This is one of those lessons I “know” and am often quoting to my husband when he’s chronically our adventures with his camera. But there’s something very special about just sitting down and doing it. I try hard not to be overly connected with my phone. I almost never take it to lunch and am usually the one person at the table not staring at something. But to sit in a room full of strangers, with no one to talk to, no screen to watch and nothing new to learn gave me a wonderful opportunity to play in my own mind.

My most exciting view

So thank you jury duty for reminding me of this great skill. Sometimes the best place to spend some time by yourself and get in touch with your thoughts is in a room full of strangers. 

Day 2: Enjoy the drive home

Some days are not terrible, but not the greatest either. Ok, maybe most days are like that. It’s actually pretty rare to get one of those “amazing” days. That’s not to say that the other normal days aren’t worth it, in fact those are the days that make up the grand majority of life. So be prepared for extremely normal posts 87% of the time.
Today I went into work for a few hours to make up for some lost time this week. It’s normally my day off, but I’d rather spend my built up vacation hours on a vacation. Crazy talk, I know. On my drive home, I had two scary experiences. First, a car tried passing me on the shoulder, which didn’t go well for them. I, being the patient and caring person I am, sped up so there wasn’t room to cut in front of me. Kids, don’t try this at home. The driver slowed down and pulled in close behind me, and just as we were going under an overpass, his tire blew. Not just a flat tire type of deal, but a loud, reverberating blow. And while I was watching the driver in my rearview mirror pull over to the shoulder, the car next to me decided he wanted to be in my lane, exactly where I was. Whether I was in his blind spot, or he was a jerk, I’ll never know. But he certainly “didn’t hear” my horn as I warned him of my existence. Thankfully I have fabulous braking skills. Now, no my daily lesson has nothing to do with driving. Although I’m sure I still have plenty to learn in that area as well.
Day 2: Appreciate the safe drive home. Very rarely as I leave my home does it occur to me that I might not make it back. It’s easy to celebrate when you survive an accident, but why not celebrate when nothing happens! What’s wrong with thousands of days of celebrating “I made it home safely!” Sure, staying safe is the norm, and accidents are the exception, but what a great norm! So tomorrow when I make it home again, it’s time to jump for joy that it’s a normal day. 

The office is the new classroom

Did you ever read the book, All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarden? I remember that being such a innovative piece for its time, though I never read it. However the concept was still clear, what are the basic life lessons that can be applied to adult life? It’s a brilliant philosophy but I think that I went a bit too far in my application of it. And yes, that’s probably what I get for not reading the book. I (mistakenly) found myself feeling that, apart from knowledge and such, when it comes to life lessons as they say, “there’s nothing new under the sun.”

I’ll be the first to admit that it’s easy to live life with your head down. It’s easy to do and frequently it makes life easier as well. But like mom always used to tell me, “easier is not always better.” It may be easier to stay in one’s hometown, but many people find new knowledge and experiences by going away to college or around the world. But don’t be fooled, there is no way to live that guarantees a life without problems. So you may as well choose difficult paths that help mold you into a stronger, smarter and more equipped person.

With all this in mind, I’ve started opening up my eyes a bit more at work. If you’re going to spend 40+- hours in one place every week you may as well spend it in a determined way. I’ve been keeping track recently of the broader life lessons that I’ve learned at my office. Here are just a few, without getting too specific about the circumstances that brought me to these lessons.

  • Staying in the middle of an issue does not always shield you from criticism from either/both extremes.
  • As an “expert” it’s your job to be ready to learn and ready to teach at any given time. Never think you only have to do one or the other.
  • One of the most valuable things to know is what is important to those around you. Understand them, learn what makes them tick. 
  • Plan as you may, there will always be someone around you who forgot to plan at all. While there lack of planning doesn’t have to be your emergency, plan a little bit of flexibility into your time just in case.
  • The best benefit a job can have is someone in your line of sight that understands you. Nothing compares to looking up in a moment of panic or stress to have someone looking back with an understanding or comical look on their face.
  • Some of the most unexpected people can bring the greatest of inspiration. Learn from everyone. You never know what information from another field can be applied to your own. 
  • Make the extra effort to share with others how your field can improve their work life. People will care more about what you do when they see how it impacts them. 

Those are the lessons for a few days at least. What else have you learned about life from work?

    Hold on Tight

    Life has its ups and downs. We’ve all lived it, a few days where nothing can go wrong, then a week of “blah.” Maybe there were a few months of horrible then a scattered sprinkling of hopeful possibilities. Of course the moments that we deem worthy of sharing of the good ones, the great ones for those of us that don’t share as often. I may choose not to share online every time I have a bill to pay and I’m not sure where the money will come from or every time I have a low-grade fever. The big lows we may share, being in the hospital, a car accident, etc. But does that make them more worthy in our life?

    A full life is not made of Facebookable moments, but rather of life in all its glory. We need those highlights, those marking moments to keep on our horizon to keep us from getting sea sick during life’s normal ups and downs. Maybe you’ve had less of those “amazing” moments, that doesn’t mean you lived any less. Soak in those ridiculously simple moments, bask in the glory of your trip to the grocery store or feel as bored as the moment demands.

    What makes you feel alive? I’ve come to realize that life, much like love, is a choice and not merely an emotion. Oh yes, there is emotion involved. But you love because you choose to love. And likewise we keep living even when sometime the emotion of “feeling alive” isn’t present. Sometimes living is an act of faith, faith that things will get better, that the flat moments will somehow lead to new highs, that the low moments will once again be followed by the slow climb up.

    Sometimes our only hope is to hold on tight to the life we have, stay in the car and hope that’s enough.