Monday, July 31, 2006

The Journey is the Thing

Many people have said, even I have said, that it is not the destination it is the journey that is the thing. It’s not the place it’s the act of getting there that is important. Obviously the people who said this have never traveled overseas. I just got back from an overseas trip to Europe and I loved the destination and hated the journey.

It all started simply enough with an airplane trip from Las Vegas to Denver. My wife and I trudged the bags for a 10 day trip worrying about weight limits and bag size restriction. We begged and pleaded for our emergency row seats for more leg room for my wide-body. It was a relatively easy 2-hour flight and we landed on time. My back was strained but not broken as I struggled to keep up with my wife’s “airport speed” racing from one terminal to another. After the typical hurry up and wait travel itinerary we boarded our plane for the next leg of our trip: Denver to Detroit. We pushed away from the dock and stopped, after a few minutes the captain came on the crackling over-head speakers with those dreaded words, “I’m sorry folks but …” The delay lasted for two and a half hours, then we finally took off. If the jet stream was in our favor we just might make our connecting flight in Detroit to Frankfurt, Germany. We watched the plane pull away from the gate as we ran, knocking down old ladies and babies, to get there. We missed our connecting flight, the only one of the day, the only one every 24 hours, by about 10 minutes and watched it take off with a small tear running down our cheek. Instead of the enjoying the ancient ruins of Greece we spent the time in a local Detroit hotel.

Airplanes cause me back problems, leg and shoulder cramps, and hours of unrest. After wedging my body into something akin to a kid’s metal car seat I have to sit with my shoulders folded in like wings under my chin so they don’t spread into the seat next to me. If I opened one wing into the aisle it was whacked by the serving cart going by. If I opened the other it would stretch half-way across the adjacent seat. After a few hours I end up at the tail of the plane standing by the restrooms annoying people and stewardesses trying to get by me. I hate the journey. I look at those lucky, skinny, short people resting, sleeping, laughing during the journey, enjoying their box lunch while I stand bruised and beaten in the back of the bus. While I fight down envy and anger at those sleeping peacefully during the journey I think about the destination, the purpose for going through this torture and, finally, I smile.

As I focused on the purpose and joy coming in the destination, the journey’s pain seems to ease a bit and that is the key to surviving the journey. Never will the pain go away but we can ease it with looking forward and focusing on the final destination. What are you focused on?

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