Embrace the Chaos: In Travel, and Every Day
You hear people say it all the time. Don’t take any moment for granted, enjoy the journey not the destination, live in the moment. We all KNOW all of these old adages, but do we truly live by them?
When I went abroad on Semester at Sea, I learned very quickly how easily time slips away from you. We would have only 5 or 6 days in a country, and that was it. Five days to see an entire country. We were thrown into port with little planning and preparation, armed with nothing but an open mind and high expectations. If you didn’t take advantage of every moment, every opportunity, every sight to see, you missed out. We were going to countries like India, South Africa, Brazil, Cambodia, Vietnam, Japan and China.. places I wasn’t sure if I would ever have another opportunity to get back to. I had too many places to go, too much to see, too many memories to make.
Life isn’t so different from traveling in that way. We’re thrown into this life, which is always going to be too short. We have too many places we want to go, too much to accomplish, too many memories to make. We can prepare, plan, and create a fool-proof itinerary for the rest of our lives, or we can just live. The happiest people, in my opinion, find somewhere in between. A blend of preparation, long-term goal planning, and spontaneity. I think the happiest of us all learn to embrace the uncertainty that life brings, and live every day no different than as if it’s a vacation in a new destination.
And so I challenge you. Can you take advantage of every opportunity that every day presents? Can you see all there is to see and leave every day, and every destination, with no regrets? Much like travelers do in a new place, people can, and should, live every day with the mindset of, if I never get another opportunity, if tomorrow isn’t guaranteed, if my long-term itinerary isn’t set in place, would it make me happy in this moment to do this? Living for the moment, instead of constantly making our life decisions based on how we think we’ll feel in the future or how we think we should feel right now, is, in my opinion, the key to happiness. It seems to me that after all is said and done, we actually don’t want the plain, perfect life we set out to create at a young age. We want the mishaps, the risks, the chances we take, we want the mistakes that make us who we are. Just like on vacation, it’s the flat tires, the last-minute itinerary changes, the storms, the adventures, the spontaneous times that make the best stories. It’s simply about embracing the uncertainty, and flexing with the twists and turns that life throws at us.
I wish every day could actually be a vacation. But, then again, can’t it?