It was an especially hectic weekend. On top of the standard travel soccer chaos, there was also a band/chorus concert and tech week for one of my daughter’s theater groups. All of this was compounded by the fact that my wife was away on a well-deserved, but ill-timed, girls’ weekend. I was flying solo.
We had managed the first three days quite well, due in large part to some good planning and even better temperament from my three daughters. A reward for all this running around would be traveling to go see the NY Gotham women’s professional soccer team – for which my wife gave me season tickets as a Christmas gift.
As we were getting ready to leave, the rains came. Both literally and in the form of tears streaming down my youngest’s face. She was absolutely losing it as she was in the middle of a “room redesign’ that featured moving furniture and countless Lego structures. She was apoplectic that she needed to leave in the middle of her project, her sisters were mad at her that she was making us late and I was mad at the world for making a seeming treat feel like a chore.
As we finally made it into the car and began our one hour drip down the Jersey turnpike, we sat in silence – all privately stewing and/or decompressing from the stressful three days that led us to this point.
As we pulled into the game, I was surprised by the amount of available parking and the lack of attendants who typically help guide cars towards the stadium. Finally, we found someone who informed us that the game had been canceled due to COVID related reasons. Masking my inner rage, I calmly asked when the game was canceled. She informed us that it was canceled at 4:00PM. It was now 7:00PM.
As the tickets were in my wife’s name, she received the email notification at 5:00PM. As she was out with her friends, she did not check her email.
My first instinct was to go all Clark Griswold at Wally World, but figured this would be bad form. Instead, we began our trek home.
Fortuitously we found a Wendy’s and stopped to get something to eat. After some eating and venting, the ride home began to take on an altogether different tone. We joked about our bad luck. We laughed each time our GPS told us it was adding 10, 15, 20 minutes to our drive home due to traffic. We sang songs – very loudly – for a shared playlist we all loved.
When it was all said and done, we took a three hour round trip to go to a Wendy’s drive thru. But the rides there and back couldn’t have been more different.
The first was a stressful trip to a destination. The second was just an enjoyable ride.
At home, we ate popcorn and watched the movie, Clouds. A true story of a boy with terminal cancer who opts to make the most of the little time he has left – by just doing what he loves, making music and spending time with those he cares about.
The point of my story has probably become obvious by now. We stress, stretch and scramble our lives to get to destinations that we may or may not ever reach.
We strive for good grades instead of enjoying the act of learning.
We focus on winning games, instead of enjoying play.
We work to earn money or a promotion, instead of enjoying the work.
We seek recognition for what we make, instead of enjoying the process of creating it.
And so on and so on.
Goals, achievements, and other “destinations” are nice but they are often beyond our control. When it comes down to it, we probably spend more of our time on the ride to get there.
So why not just enjoy the ride?