Monday, June 24, 2013

Journey vs. Destination

I've never been a "journey" person. And in my typical fashion, I've always derided myself for that. Being a journey person, to me, means you're "being," moving along with the flow of life with little anxiety as to where you're headed--you're enjoying the ride.

Being a destination person is more about the stress of WHEN WE WILL GET WHERE WE'RE GOING. It's about getting somewhere else as quickly as possible. It's about setting your sights on a point down the road, and tunnel-visioning for it. Not looking around to see what you're experiencing now--but urging forward and getting stressed when the destination remains out of reach.

Perhaps that means I'm goal-oriented, and that can be a good thing. But when your goal is a big one, something that takes long-term dedication and sustained drive--like losing weight or training for a 10K, for example--reflecting on and enjoying the journey is equally important as GETTING THERE.

Being a destination person sometimes means feeling deflated and floundering.

Being a journey person means saying I like who I am at this moment and I'm making progress and that's all I can ask of myself.

My dad has always been a journey person. When I was little, he would always choose the back roads to get anywhere in our rural corner of Michigan. When you've got a straight shot of highway and can drive 70mph, why oh why would you ever choose the winding two-lane road? I would sit in my seat, gritting my teeth, urging the car faster so we could GET THERE.

But, on the back roads, maybe you can see the river better.

Maybe you'll see a field full of deer.

Maybe you'll stumble upon something you weren't even looking for, something that would blur past as you try to get around the semi before your exit.

Having a kid is turning me into a journey person. Take our recent 450-mile drive to Michigan. I've been making this drive since I was 18 years old and went to college in Pennsylvania. And before I became a mother, I had it down to a science.

Drive 10 miles over the limit and you can do it in about 7 hours. Pee breaks are swift and hurried. Meals are eaten in the car, even by the driver, never EVER sitting in a restaurant. Leave whenever--be that 7am or 7pm. Only deviate from the customary route in extreme situations, like an accident shutting down the Turnpike.

Pedal to the metal. Get there as quickly as possible.

This was the first long, long drive Munch has made in a front-facing car seat. And he loves his car seat. Some days, after work, he'll want to just drive around. He loves riding. And we are lucky. He didn't cry almost at all on the way to Michigan or on the way back. He just rode. He pointed out semis, the diamonds on their rears where the "warning" signs go. He pointed out the moon when the sun set. He drank milk and ate cereal bars and looked at his nursery rhyme book and kicked off his shoe a thousand times and just chilled.

With Munch in the car, we stop for long stretches. At one rest area, he sat as good as can be (when he usually refuses to sit in restaurants) and ate apples and chicken nuggets and fries and then he ran laps around the near-empty space, laughing and having a great time. We stopped for over an hour that time.

And my instinct is still to look at the clock, calculate how much time we've lost, grit my teeth that we haven't made it to X or Y milestone yet.

But then, I turn my mind to the time we gained. That time in the rest area was so much fun. Munch kept pointing at Auntie Ann's pretzels and saying "heart." He squealed as I chased him around. He pooped, a big deal on a long trip. It was relaxing to stop. It refueled him and us. He stretched his legs and burned some energy. He readied himself for the next leg, and enjoyed every mile of it.

And that's the biggest perk of being a journey person. You enjoy every mile of it. Having a kid has given me a grand appreciation of the passage of time. And now that I can hardly remember the sound of Munch's newborn cries, or the baldness of his head until he was past a year old, or the way he babbled before talking, now that I want DESPERATELY to slow the journey down, I no longer long for the destination. I no longer wish away a week to get to the weekend or a month to get to a vacation or three years to get to a new house.

I slow down. I breathe. I listen to Munch saying "Mommy, come 'ere." I laugh when he whistles. I walk slowly, as he stops frequently to check out the stroller. I hold his hand as he points out the moon, always there, watching over our journey.

I put the destination out of my mind. This is where I want to be.


  1. Beautifully written. What a nice realization to come to. I'm glad you enjoyed the journey! :)

    1. Thank you, Kendra! It's been a "journey" getting to this point! ;)

  2. We've taken Babyface on exactly one long road trip and it was such an adjustment for us. I also learned that we need to plan to give him at least a couple of hours to run around afterwards after all of that time in the carseat.

    1. We don't travel nearly as much as we used to, but still a fair amount. Last Thanksgiving in MI, he slept in the car from 8pm to 11pm and didn't go to sleep until 4:30am--sooooo not good! Coordinating to drive at nap time and get in relatively early is KEY!