Don’t be in a hurry. A day may soon come when you focus more on the glory of the destination instead of the beauty along the journey. There is beauty along every step of the way! Be conscientious of time, yes, and be considerate of other’s time, but don’t let time distract you from the path that you’re on. Be where you are — be fully immersed in that single moment. Plan ahead, certainly, but don’t look ahead with such frequency or breadth that you miss the charm of the day. You’re curious now, and your wonder allows your feet to pause and your mind to absorb what is new and captivating. Retain the wonder and the eagerness to notice something new and beautiful.
If you want to learn a few life-lessons, go ahead and pack four adults and five kids (under five years old) into a van and drive in one direction for 16 hours. If that doesn’t do it, turn around and drive back. Road trips have a way challenging me. Those who know me would testify to my competitive nature. If there is an opportunity for a competition, I’ll find it, and if there isn’t, I’ll create one. When I road trip, I want to drive. I want to drive because I want to beat the estimated arrival time. I want to beat the estimated arrival time because I can’t seem to help myself. It’s a vicious cycle that I sadistically enjoy. On road trips, my mentality (whether driving solo or with a party of nine) has always been focused purely on the destination.
One of my fellow adult passengers and I went into great depths while discussing “the destination” versus “the journey.” “The destination”, quite clearly focuses on the end of the road trip, while “the journey” focuses more on the landscape, the scenery and being in the moment. Contrary to my personality and my ultra competitive nature, I decided to force myself to notice things that I would normally ignore due to being focused on the end. I found myself thinking things like, “How did they build that two mile long bridge over alligator infested swamp?” I began noticing changes in vegetation as our altitude dropped and the climate warmed. In short, I began truly enjoying the journey as I focused less and less on the destination. Since I am me, I still had a goal in my head of when I wanted to arrive at our vacation spot, but that was no longer my sole focus. Ultimately, that shift in mindset allowed me to still be me, but also to enjoy the journey a lot more than I would have otherwise.
I often go for walks with my two-year-old. He is full of childlike wonder, and it is beautiful to behold. Actually, it’s aggravating, isn’t it? Why does he stop every five paces to look closely at something or smell something or touch something (or taste something!).
I recently noticed myself saying something like this…
“You’ve been looking at that dried up worm on the sidewalk for 15 seconds, let’s keep going.”
But wait, why would I want to squelch that wonder? Why would I want to deprive my kids of an opportunity to learn and discover? Surely there was a time when I too noticed those things. The little boy version of this man once picked up every rock he could find, just to throw it at a nearby tree.
I want my boys to notice every dried up worm along the path. I want my boys to stop and blow every dandelion bloom (and my two year old does) that they encounter. More than anything in this regard, I want my boys to grow up noticing the mastery and beauty of God’s creation all around them. I want my sons to be aware of the destination, to be considerate of other’s time, but be intentional about retaining their wonder and fascination within the moment. Be where your feet are.
For The Parents
When you go for a walk, take some water with you. Plan on slowing down. It’s ok to go at a child’s pace. Don’t make them hurry or carry on down the sidewalk or along the trail. Let them notice and discover. Let them use all five of their senses within reason (though it’s worth noting that my son did in fact eat that worm that was earlier mentioned). As your kids grow, they will follow your example in just about everything. Maybe you’re like me and you are naturally inclined to focus on the destination. Find appropriate times to portray a sense of wonder and fascination in the moment. Fake it if you have to — but know that the look of awestruck enchantment on your child’s face is one hundred percent real. At that point, you won’t regret the leisurely pace.