As the final in a series of reflections on the lessons learned from my family’s hike up the Lanikai Pillbox trail, this might be the one I needed the most.
When we began the hike, the summit was the agreed-upon destination. Anything less would have been a disappointment. We wanted to see the best view.
But it’s been said that life is the journey, not the destination, and for good reason. There are a lot of cool things to see on the way, and if you keep your head down, you’re liable to miss them.
Take the pandemic as an example. We haven’t yet reached the destination, but perhaps you can use this moment as a lookout. I think it’s worth appreciating how far we’ve come. Starting with the fact that we know a lot more about the virus and how to treat it than we did a year ago. Also, vaccinations are readily available for all who want them.
And we somehow made it through the great toilet paper shortage of 2020.
I’ll admit that when striving for a goal, I have the tendency to keep my head down until it’s accomplished. No sense looking up until the job is finished, I figure; otherwise you’re just giving in to distraction and wasting time.
At the risk of stating the obvious – but with a desire to remind myself – there are plenty of reasons to stop along the way to appreciate how far you’ve come.
For one, it helps avoid burnout. Whether it’s a two-hour task or a two-year adventure, little breaks actually improve efficiency and help maintain your energy levels.
Secondly, moments of reflection allow for much-needed perspective. You can consider what’s been working well, what might need to be adjusted, and consider if this is still the path you want to be on.
Finally, stopping along the way keeps you from missing your life and the beauty hidden in each moment. John Lennon was right when he said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
We all want this pandemic to be over. The temptation is to keep our heads down until things get back to “normal.” We are always eager for trials to pass, just like parents who yearn for the day their child finally sleeps through the night. But each season has blessings that accompany the trials. I might be happy that I no longer have to change diapers, but boy, do I miss holding a sleeping baby in my arms. With each new season we enter, the old one fades away, never to return again.
Don’t ever wish away time. Don’t rush past the lookouts.
Don’t be so eager to reach the finish line that you miss the scenery along the way.
Of course, when you do reach a summit, celebrate it! 🎉
It may seem obvious, but to a driven person like myself, I need the reminder. When I’ve completed a goal, I rarely savor the accomplishment. I’m more likely to think, well, this was the goal, this is what I set out to do. No sense celebrating like I won the lottery; this was the expected outcome. What’s next?
To make matters worse, sometimes when things are going well, I can’t help myself. I’m tempted to wonder when things will take a turn for the worse. I look around for the other shoe to drop. Which is dumb, because any second I spend on that robs me of the joy of the present moment.
Call it pessimism, realism, or a huge sense of unworthiness, but it’s not great, Bob.
The midwife who helped us out with the birth of all three of our children had a saying she usually aimed at Kim: “Don’t go looking for trouble.” It was meant to be a caution against needless worry, a reminder to stay at peace in the present, not entertain the anxious thoughts of an uncertain future.
So yes, we finally made it to the top. I was able to slow down and put the return trip planning on hold for a hot minute. The view was as good as advertised. We lingered there for a good long while, savoring our triumph.
Please take a few moments to do the same with your life. Enjoy the season you are in, and look for the blessings amidst the trials.
When you have a good day, accomplish a goal, or achieve a small victory, appreciate and savor the gift that it is.
And don’t be so quick to worry about the time when things will start moving downhill. Life is long. There are sunny days and rainy days.
Don’t waste a sunny day scrolling the weather app on your phone searching for a rainy one.