What I Learned From Burger King
Growing up, I had somewhat of a conundrum. I liked McDonalds fries the best. I mean how could you not, plus, since they were thinner than most, there were more chances for the "bonus fry". However, as much as I liked McDonalds, I preferred Burger King's hamburgers. I refuse to comment whether as an adult I've gotten a whopper from Burger King and driven to McDonalds to get fries. Burger King always resonated with me because I loved their motto: "Have it your way". I think I remembered their motto so much more because my remedial math teacher often used it (Yes, I took remedial math. I got a D in my one and only college math course. Philosophers can't do math. Why do you think my professors never gave exams?). I can hear Nettie Hart's words right now: "I don't know who you think you are. This ain't Burger King. You can't have it your way here". However, one of the best days of my life was September 10th when I decided for the first time in life, I was going to have it my way.
One of my favorite authors is Donald Miller. He has somewhat of a small, but cult following in the U.S. If you don't think people who bring up Jesus have cooties, then I highly recommend him. His most recent book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, has been one of the most influential books that I can remember, as he talks about people writing their own story and living lives that are bigger than themselves.
Miller talks in his book Blue Like Jazz, about a conversation he had with a high school student after one of his first speaking engagements. She asked him that the most important question she wanted to know was how she could be in two places at one time. So basically, how can you be drinking some cold beers with your friends at the pub, while sitting at your cubicle doing work. Go ahead and laugh and get it out of the way; but it’s the same thing we try to do everyday. We find ourselves in the present, yet always trying to live either in the past or the future. Trying to live “what was” or “what could be”, when we can only live in “what is”. And if we're not living either in the past or the future, than we're living someone else's life. We're living the career our father wanted us to take, living like who a spouse wants us to be or living vicariously through a TV or movie character. No you might not be doing it consciously, but believe me, others can see it.
I know you're thinking it, so I'm just going to go ahead and say it for you: "You think you're better than me because you quit the rat race to travel the world and don't have any responsibilities". Well first of all, I have been married once before and wouldn't mind being married again in the distant future once I've learned from my mistakes and if the right one comes around and tickles my fancy. Secondly, I'm not knocking someone who takes on their father's business or "settles down". There are some people who will take over the family business, and that's what they love and were meant to do, and they will live fulfilling lives. However, I'm not talking to you. I'm talking to you, who is unhappy and wondering if this is all there is to life. You're the one whose on the corner begging for change.
To be cliche, there are different strokes for different folks. For me, I spent 27 years living for someone else and it wasn't until September 10th, 2010, when I started doing life the Burger King way; and the verdict: I don't regret one bit of it. I believe there's a mindset that travel is vacation. I don't think that could be any further than the truth. For some people, this is what they want out of travel, and that's fine, and travel is very relaxing. Don't get me wrong, I need to take more "vacation" days for myself, however, travel is much more than this and the last six weeks have bee much more than this.
For me, to travel is to live. Traveling to a foreign culture can teach me more about my life and the world than any textbook, professor or documentary ever will. It's the conversations with locals, watching how people of another culture go about their day, learning the language and customs, eating the food, learning the history and submersing myself in that place. Place isn't a destination, but an on-going experience. Over the last few weeks, it was doing what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it and how I wanted to. It was taking a road trip across the country from New York to California, riding the Big Shot theme ride on the top of the tallest structure in Las Vegas at the Stratosphere and drinking beers at the oldest pub in New York City with good friends.
Let me ask you this: what's the first thing you do when you get home from a trip? What's the first thing you talk about? Do you talk to people about last month's book club? Maybe you call your friends and chat about global warming? The answer's probably not. You're calling your friends to talk about your trip, uploading photos to Facebook, getting pictures developed and making photo albums. When we come back, we're not ready to jump back into life; so much so that we try to extend our trip by sharing those memories with others. You have done something memorable, that is not only memorable, but also satisfying.
C.S. Lewis stated: "I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation". What is it that you praise? Whatever it is, make that the things you do in life. I challenge you to do something memorable before the end of the year. It doesn't have to be traveling to another country; it can be something you do where you live. Take your kids to an NFL game, go play paintball, volunteer, take a weekend trip to the beach, go ice fishing, ride in a helicopter, take a road trip to see your favorite band, buy someone dinner, ask that girl that gives you the butterflies on a date. It will require a sacrifice, but what doesn't require some kind of sacrifice. DO WHAT YOU WANT TO DO. Do something that months and years down the road you can say: "You remember that day when...". You get one life to live. Are you living your life or are you living someone else's life.
My most memorable moments in life have typically involved travel. What have been yours? What kind of memorable moments do you want to create for yourself?