The other day a friend made the observation that vacations seldom live up to our expectations. We more often return having spent three times as much money as we planned, being disappointed by nearly every planned event, and end up shaking our heads and vowing that next year we’ll stay home and sleep in and relax in the comforts of our own home.
That got me thinking.
As Dad used to say, ah oh, smell the smoke. I still have no idea what that means, but like so much else from my childhood, I cannot get the words out of my head.
While it’s true that vacations are often disappointing, travel is nearly always a hoot-and-a-half and very often mind-expanding. The reason for this is simple. High expectations lead to disappointment. My God, look at Christmas. Is there a more depressing time of the year in our culture? We spend a bunch of money we do not have to experience things that have been hyped to the point of the ridiculous.
But travel is about the journey. Stuck in an airport? That’s just part of the experience, maybe you’ll meet somebody interesting. Got on the wrong bus? No worries. The one you’re riding will take you to some new discovery.
Vacations are often about forcing a good time into a limited amount of time. Travel is about relaxing and letting the journey carry you to the next adventure.
And, it occurs to me that the difference between these two – vacation and travel – is a good metaphor for life. I nearly always enjoy myself when I relax and let life take me where I need to go and rarely experience anything but frustration when I push and shove and force life to be what I expect it ought to be.
So, there you have it, sixty-two years old and I’ve finally figured out that life is not an over-priced vacation, it’s a wondrous journey of discovery.