Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom (And Whimsy)

Posted on July 19, 2023 under Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom with one comment

It’s about the journey


“So put me on a highway,

And show me a sign,

And take it to the limit, one more time.”

Take it to The Limit – The Eagles

“Are we there yet?’

How often have we heard this refrain? For most of us, this simple but oft repeated question, conjures up memories of our youth. We are in the “dog days of summer” and many young families are on the move, going camping or simply taking a trip to the beach to beat the stifling heat and humidity. And as sure as day follows night, someone in the car will ask their parents if they are getting close to the destination, only a scant 10 minutes after leaving home. This theme will persist over our lifetimes.

Are we there yet?

When I was a child, our family often made the trek to Prince Edward Island for summer vacation. There was no Confederation Bridge back then so the only way to get to Anne of Green Gables backyard was by ferry. The ferry terminals on both sides of the Northumberland Strait were always clogged with long lineups of vehicles. There were ten of us and I am quite certain that not all of us travelled at the same time, but as you can well imagine, the car was jammed to the gunwales. Kids and sleeping bags were tossed unceremoniously in every nook and cranny. Of course, this was long before the advent of seat belts. Your brother or a sleeping bag were surrogate air bags. There was no such thing as air conditioning so things could get pretty sweaty. And long before we crossed the county line, someone would invariably wonder if we were close to our destination. Oh those “lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer”.

Are we there yet?

Not every child has the luxury of attending school. We take our education system for granted but in many parts of the world, going to school is a privilege. At the time, it seemed like an eternity but as we inched our way towards completing high school, we anticipated graduation as much as a road trip. We wondered if we would ever be finished with school once and for all.

Are we there yet?

The next phase of life introduced us to the work world and many of us also got married and started having families. Whether it was cloth diapers or the new-fangled Pampers, parents often wondered if we would ever get to the point where our children wouldn’t need diapers. Are we there yet? Just think of the money we would be saving once our young ones were potty trained. How naïve we were. Little did we know that the expensive years were lurking around the corner. Yes. We took our lives and sanity into our own hands and took our children on summer vacations. We bought a camper trailer and after I learned how to back it into a campsite, a sure fire test of marriage vows (!) we had many pleasant outings. Even though we had air conditioning and seat belts, impatience at reaching our destination was the same as it was 60 years ago.

Are we there yet?

For most of us with children, there was a 25 year period, that was a blur. We were busy with jobs, ferrying our children to early morning band classes and driving all over the county to drop off our teenagers to meet up with friends. I’m sure if most parents were honest, they would tell you that, while raising children was the most rewarding thing that they did (except grandparenting!), they often wondered “are we there yet?” Most of us looked forward to the day, when the pressures of parenting would disappear like early morning fog. More naivety.

Are we there yet?

As the years passed, we became conscious that at some point in time, we would have to face the prospect of retirement. After raising and educating children, saving for retirement seemed like a pipe dream. Some of us were lucky and enjoyed our working careers but for many people, getting to the finish line was very much like those early road trips. Will I ever be able to retire and if so, will I ever get there?

Are we there yet?

Many of us are now in a very interesting phase of our lives. We are in our golden years. It has often been said that the only thing golden about retirement years is the color of our pee! We have come to the realization that it is not about the destination but about the journey. Two graphic examples for me are the Boston Marathon and the Camino. I have done them both… twice. I thought that crossing the finish line in Copley Square in Boston or arriving at the great plaza in Santiago de Compostela was the ultimate achievement, but I have come to realize that getting to the destination was the ultimate accomplishment. And so it is with life. The ultimate destination for s senior citizen is a more sobering prospect so it is incumbent to enjoy the ride… with or without seatbelts and air conditioning!

On my recent 800 kilometer walk across Spain, I met a young woman from Australia. Her walking pace was much faster than mine, but she was polite enough to slow down and walk with me for a few hours. She was bright and engaging. She came to Spain after quitting her most recent job and was hoping for some enlightenment about what to do next. Just before we parted I suggested to her that she had plenty of time and would likely change careers several times during her lifetime. I told her that she had “plenty of runway” left while my runway was much shorter. Without breaking stride, she looked at me and said, “Len. Just take a smaller plane”.

My plane is smaller, but the sky is the limit. I plan to take the advice of The Eagles and “take it to the limit” while I still have good health and time.

Are we there yet?

I hope not!

Fasten your seatbelts.

Have a great weekend.

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