Monday, April 19, 2010

It's Not Where You Go, But How You Get There ...


When our children were small we used to make annual trips to a place about 800 miles from home. We spent some weeks planning the trip, then several days collecting all the items that we would need on the road, and once we arrive for a week’s camping in the wilderness. The entire effort was tiring, expensive, but fun. We had a goal, a target, and we looked forward to being there for a few days.

I, being in charge of all hard labor, having a reliable vehicle, insuring that all camping equipment would be functional, making sure that our home would be watched, had my own role and responsibility. MW was more into smaller details, such as the planned menu and food items, children’s clothes, first aid, etc. The children on the other hand, were into the mode of “can we go now, please?”

The day arrived when we packed and left home before dawn. In a few minutes everyone except me was asleep as I drove toward our destination. Just as well, for all I would hear on the way was complaints, “are we there yet?” MW did not complain, but she did sleep a lot to the monotonous drone of the engine and the tires on the road. At the end of the first day we usually stayed overnight at some campground before continuing to our destination the next day.

Once we arrived, MW and I set up camp. The children ran wild as expected. Life was good for the moment. We relaxed some, and we worked to keep the little buggers fed, washed, and bandaged as they got into scrapes and cuts. All was going as planned. After our stay we packed again and headed home, essentially reversing the upward trip. The children couldn’t wait to get home to play their games and watch their TV shows.

In all of this I continually had a nagging concern, that of our wasting moments. It was always a symptom of looking forward to things to come, and yet not appreciating what we were experiencing from moment to moment. I don’t know whether this feeling comes with age or wisdom. Children certainly don’t exhibit it. I enjoyed the planning, the sorting of our goods, the packing, and the departure. I looked forward to the very tiring but fascinating drive. I anticipated the known landmarks with fervor. Even the minor annoyances, such as blown tires, changing a diaper, and pulling into a gas station on fumes were part of a great adventure. My feeling was, to paraphrase my favorite saying, “It’s not were you go, but how you get there!” Once you are there, the challenge seems to be diminished or gone. You live with all the thrills of you vacation spot, and it becomes regular, commonplace, expected.

Being in FLR

The whole FLR thing is much like my described vacations of many years ago. It took some years to get from vanilla marriage to this point. The road to get here was rocky with many ups and downs and confusing side roads that led nowhere. All along I may have expected utopia consisting of full-time service to my wife. Now that I am there, I feel guilty for a couple of reasons.

The most compelling reason is that in my haste and anticipation I missed the pleasure and joy of our learning together and rushing in support of this goal. Sure, I remember some, and I wrote about it to preserve some of our fondest memories. What I did not realize over the last four years is that the way to get here was more fun, more precious, and more valuable than what I think I have now.

The lesser reason why I feel some guilt is being in the maintenance mode. I am not bored with it; just that, I miss the challenge and partial rewards that came with the trip.


Miss Jaye said...

Often it is the journey that is the most thrilling, the small goals acheived, the milestones passed, more so than the actual destination. I think it is because as we are chasing our goals, we are in motion but once we reach our destination, we become still.

Susan's Pet said...

Miss Jaye, you understand my position. We need constant challenge. Without it we stagnate. A journey is a challenge.