Finding Meaning From the Journey and Not the Destination
As I felt the water begin to now permeate both my socks and shoes, I considered the significance of what I was doing. Just the fact that I had packed an umbrella, let alone been walking around with one, was of great importance. Yes, as a matter of fact, I do try to live and travel to places that are rather absent of rain. I then stopped in my tracks, not because the rain had stopped, but rather because the breadth of this moment finally struck me. I lowered my umbrella, took off my hood, leaned my head back as the drops of rain hit my face, and let out a big sigh of satisfaction as I gazed upon the Seattle skyline.
Rain or shine, hell or high water, Seattle was to be my new home and while I didn't have a physical address yet, a certain coziness was already setting in, amidst the feelings of spontaneity, adventure, excitement, and anxiousness. Think about your most memorable moments in life, be it travel or otherwise. What were they? Could you adequately sum it up in 140 characters, a bullet point, or even a word? Or rather, is there a story behind it? Stories are how we make sense of the world and those stories typically come from the journey, rather then the destination. When you're talking about a destination and see the listener's face light up with emotion, it's rarely because an image of a landmark has come to mind, but rather because you've jogged their memory about a memorable story. Maybe it was a late night at a party, the train ride between destinations, or a conversation with a local, but it almost always ties back to the journey along the way.
The first trip I ever remember taking was when I was 5. I was flying from Raleigh, North Carolina to Dallas, Texas, where I would be spending the week visiting my sister. I don't remember anything about what I did or where I went while in Dallas, Texas for that week. However, I can recount the first few minutes of stepping onto that Delta airplane like it happened yesterday. Like the curious wanderer that I was, my eyes were big-eyed as soon as I stepped foot onto the plane, peering into the cockpit like any boy my age would've done. While it would have made for a much better story if I had snuck in, I'd be lying if I said I didn't almost pee on myself out of excitement when the pilot asked if I'd like to take a look around the cockpit. It only got better when one of the pilots handed me a model McDonnell Douglas DC-9 Delta airplane, one that still sits in the guest bedroom of my childhood home in North Carolina.
Since announcing last week that I was moving to Seattle, I've had a lot of people ask me why I'm moving; many of whom were caught off guard, especially when I've been such a vocal advocate for San Francisco, even extolling its virtues recently in a post about how it felt so homey. It's like I was just finding my place in San Francisco, yet I'm already uprooting my life to move hundreds of miles away and start over again. However, if I didn't leave San Francisco for this new adventure to Seattle, I would be breaking my own mantra of doing life on my terms.
“Life is short, Break the Rules. Forgive quickly, Kiss slowly. Love truly. Laugh uncontrollably And never regret anything That makes you smile.” -Mark Twain
Months ago, during the height of my love affair with San Francisco, my good friend Matt and I were talking about how long I would stay in San Francisco. While I claimed that I didn't see myself ever leaving California, he had something else to say. He told me that he foresaw me staying in San Francisco as long as I wanted to, that is, until something better came along. Those words stuck with me, and while I'd be lying if there wasn't a work motivation behind this move, at the end of the day, I'm leaving San Francisco for Seattle because I want to - that is, because Seattle is that next "something better".
Meeting a world champion windsurfer and surfboard shaper, hopping on an Austrian bus with no fixed destination, riding my first wave, peering down into a volcano, going to the Summer Olympics, and sitting in a cockpit. Where I was doesn't matter. What matters is what I was doing and the stories I came back with. A few weeks ago I was sitting on a plane, ironically from Seattle to San Francisco, in which an older gentlemen who hadn't flown in 10 years sat next to me and talked my ear off for the entire flight. As he got up to leave, he thanked me for listening, gave me a firm handshake, and told me candidly: "I sincerely wish you luck. Don't stop what you're doing because when you get to be my age, all you have are your stories and you just want that one person who will find some sense of interest in them, listen, and nod their head in agreement."
Places, landmarks, street addresses, and homes will come and go; some more memorable then others, yet I challenge you to view your life as a journey, rather then a destination you've already arrived at or soon will. You'll make wrong turns, miss an exit or twenty, and get lost. Yet I'd rather treat life as a journey, of which each turn presents a new challenge and adventure, then treat life as a destination, where I'll never know what could have been. This San Francisco, California chapter of life closes, as a new chapter in Seattle, Washington begins.
How does this idea of life/travel being about the journey and not the destination resonate with you?
The last time I made a major decision like this, many people asked me what was next and what would happen to my blog. My answer then is the same now: Nothing. I'll continue to travel, I'll continue to blog about it, I'll continue my partnerships, I'll continue to eat from food trucks, I'll probably continue to go on more first dates then second dates, and I'll continue to freelance. There are some exciting projects, trips, and adventures planned for 2013 that I've never been so excited about and if you've stuck around this long, then I hope you'll continue to. Lastly, if you have a couple minutes, I'd love to get your feedback about how to make the blog better on this 7-question SurveyMonkey survey. As always, you can contact me via email at any time if you have a question, comment, or suggestion. Just don't propose to me or ask me to work for free. Everything else is free game.