If travel is a form of searching, then is there a point when you actually find “it” and stop?
Some of this comes back to the goal in travel. I expect this is different for everyone, but the idea of searching seems to come up fairly often as a reason for travel. Searching for greener grass, searching for inner peace, searching for understanding, searching for an escape… The question that comes up to my mind then is if searching is one of the fundamentals of travel, what do you do when you find what you are looking for?
I quite like cartoons, especially the older Warner Brother’s 6 minute shorts. Short attention span, funny without being mean (anvils on the head don’t count) and to the point. I expect most people who know anything of these cartoons knows of the Coyote and the Roadrunner. For those that do not (where have you been?), the basic plot is that the coyote really wants to eat the roadrunner. He tries many many different ways to capture said roadrunner and is thwarted by the cunning bird time and again. The coyote has oriented his entire life around the goal of this roadrunner. It occurred to me several years later, “what happens if he actually catches the roadrunner?” Would the coyote just be able to go live a calm life satisfied in a job accomplished? I expect most likely he would feel somewhat empty.
Searching is a focus on the future, which can when unrestrained obscure the present and the past. If the act of “searching” becomes central in life, there is the danger of actually finding what you are looking for. What wait? Why is that a danger? Searching and growing and learning are all great things, but you need to be ok once you actually reach your goal to enjoy it. If the reason is the search, then prepare for actually finding what you are looking for. If however the feeling of “looking” becomes overwhelming, actually finding what you are looking for means giving up part of what you have let define you. One of the reactions is to not believe you have found it or actively sabotage/avoid/destroy/hide the results so that the feeling of “searching” can continue.
Enjoy the Journey
Then give up the search?? No, of course not. Reframe it as the “journey”. Whenever I feel that the act of “searching” has taken over too much of my mind, I try to think of it more as a journey. At least for me, this reframe helps. The concept of a journey lets me think of not having an end. There isn’t a specific goal that once reached eclipses the effort used to achieve it. The focus of the journey is all the little points in between and not necessarily on the destination.
One of may favorite methods of travel is the train. I find the most interesting people when I ride the train and have absolutely no problem booking a 2 day train trip. One of my bucket list things is the Trans-Siberian. When you get into a train you know that it will be slow and take a while. I don’t very often get the feeling of “just get me there” when I get on a train. I can sit and enjoy the people that come and go and watch the landscape change. It is a slow methodical process that isn’t jarring like an airplane can be. The focus becomes on enjoying getting to a place, not really on the destination.
Enjoy the Memory
The coyote in the cartoons focused all his energy on the goal, and lost sight of any intervening accomplishments. Like thinking of things as a journey to be enjoyed, I try to also look at what wonderful things have already occurred. If the journey is about enjoying the present and the act of traveling toward a goal, looking at your achievements is looking back at the past. This is especially helpful when I hit barriers. A journey is great, but when that get stopped or there are hurdles, then remembering the good things of the past is a nice place to be. Remembering that the barriers of the past were also hurdled and any current problems will be too.
Looking at the past is a way to keep the future in check. Always striving toward a goal and ignoring the road you have already walked can lead to a lot of fulfillment. That idea of “ok, now what?” or “what next?” can be the seeds of discontentment. Enjoy the fruits of past experience, I guess is what I’m getting at here. It’s a balance like everything else, dwelling on the past isn’t healthy, but learning from it is.
Goals are helpful. They help organize our thoughts, measure progress and provide long term motivation. Just remember why the goal is important and not the striving. Bucket lists are a topic that come up in the travel community often. I have one too. I find myself checking off things and looking toward the next one; and have to sometimes force myself to look back at the memories that are encapsulated in the crossed off ones. Not to mention, put the list away and truly enjoy the item you are currently experiencing. Set your goals, don’t allow them to set you.
I love comments. Leave one. Any stories about remembering the journey amidst the goal would not go amiss.