Yesterday evening I was giving my daughter a ride to the Maui County Fair. She has been on Maui exactly one year this weekend, and has made a few school friends and was meeting them there. I asked her how she liked living here and I made a comment about how lucky we were to live in such a beautiful place. She looked up from her phone and said “fine”.
I knew what that meant. It meant she really didn’t think about where she lives, it’s more about who she knows. Journey and destination mean the same to her. The journey she doesn’t care about all that much. And most of the time, a destination is undeterminable.
To get to the fair we have to travel from our home, which is at 1156 feet above sea level, to the main town, which is only a few feet above sea level. Just to give you an idea, if you have ever been to the skyscrapers in Chicago, the John Hancock Center is 1128 feet, and the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) is 1451. I’ve been up in the Hancock Building and scared me to death. I’m not a big height person. The road goes down fairly quickly so you can just imagine the view. It’s gorgeous and takes my breath away most days I go that way.
Kids don’t care for scenery. The ride in the car is boring for them, and if you have ever traveled by car with kids any distance, you will know what I mean. They don’t look out the windows unless they are looking for food or gift shops. I think I was pretty much the same. I always had my eye out for a Stuckey’s. I liked to buy magic tricks and fake poop. We pulled up to the fair entrance, she said bye, and jumped out to meet her friends. How did she grow up so fast I thought.
I went back home to an empty house. Something bothered me all night, and I have been thinking about it all day today. When am I going to be there? That’s really hard to answer because I don’t know where “there” is. I have lived my whole life moving toward something I really can’t define.
How about fulfilling my dream to move to Maui. Yes, I’m here, but every day it feels like I am waiting for more. And retiring is not all that satisfying when you don’t have a direction. I feel like Flotsam. (My kids get a kick out of that word). I have always thought about my kids growing up and moving into a life of their own. Now it scares me to even think about them not being here. Even writing this blog I don’t feel like I am ever done, which is true I guess.
It goes back way farther than right now. Try my whole life. Every job, relationship, house, car, trip, and money were just there until the next thing. I never felt I arrived. I know I’m not the only one. I think most people are living their lives desperate for something better, bigger, more fulfilling, maybe just different than what they have. And I bet, like me, they really can’t define what that would be. The clues are “maybe someday, I wish I had, I wish I could, if I had it to do over, and I’m not happy”.
Maybe if my son was here today, and I could ask him. He is a love life kind of person, wears his heart on his sleeve, and is very aware of the little nuances of life. Maybe it’s best I don’t. I don’t want to put some crazy idea in his head that he will worry about his whole life like his Dad did. I don’t think kids think about the journey or the destination. They just think about today. They may say they want this or that or are going to be such and such, but that is in constant flux, and they know it.
Everyone has heard the phrase It’s not the destination, it’s the journey. Easier said than done. To do that, you have to have a lot of things in place to support that lifestyle. I see plenty of Journey people at the beach waiting for the Salvation Army food truck to show up on Thursday mornings. Then there is the Sacrifice today for tomorrow train of thought. I have probably leaned that direction if I had to pick one. I’m starting to think one must have a purpose. But would that be a journey or a destination, hard to say? All I know is that I don’t now and never have felt whole, like I have accomplished what I set out to do, and I have arrived. That’s a very empty feeling.
Time marches on, and the road ahead is not as long as I would like it to be. I only need one hand to count how many decades I have left. That itself makes me question…is this it? Have I reached the destination? I have always been aware that I should live life in the moment, practice mindfulness, slow down. I wish I had. Looking back, I raced through life to get somewhere. I trampled on the roses instead of smelling them.
My sister and I laugh about a time we went to the mall to do some shopping. Going between the stores, we were going as fast as we possibly could. Almost running. After about an hour of this, she stopped and said to me “Why are we running? We are shopping”.We could see the absurdity of it all, but that was us.
Moving to this tropical island I thought would stop my worry. Getting off the work treadmill, same thing. I just shifted my focus to worry about something else. If you are looking for advise, not sure I would be the one to ask. I can tell you that life is more complicated than enjoying the journey, smelling the roses, and being mindful. Even being aware of and believing in those philosophies hasn’t really helped me slow down all that much.
If I could narrow it down to what it is I feel, I would say anxious. Like that feeling you get when you are waiting for important mail, or the cable guy to show up at your door or waiting for the results of an important test or medical exam. Never quite content. Thinking tomorrow that somethings going to change. Waking up in the middle of the night with thoughts racing through my head. Maybe I am struggling with having control of my life mine again, like when I was young without responsibilities. You give up so much trying to put a roof over your head and food on the table. Trading time for money. Whether you work for others or have a business of your own, it takes dedication to succeed. I guess you could say I am a work in progress. In a way, I feel like I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.
Ok, I’ll stop my whining. Pretty sure you must think I slipped a cog or two. After all, I am living a long time dream and don’t have to work for the man. But if there is one thing I have definitely learned in life- You can’t help how you feel.
For that brief moment of watching my 14-year-old daughter walking towards the fair, I don’t want my journey with them to ever be over. I have missed plenty in my life by working too many hours, not really being in control of my time, and am blessed for this time I get to spend with them now. Of course, I don’t let them know how I feel. For them, it’s just nice to have Dad home.
The next time my kids want to know “Are we there yet?”, I will think to myself, hopefully never.