I Am Going So Fast and Getting Nowhere Faster

b71e83d7dd7d8de7e7fe4c94eceb330b--the-journey-how-to-get

How often have you heard the aphorism that “The journey is more important than the destination?”  A related wisdom was one that we used in my consulting firm when I was working for Process Management International.  I believe we stole it from some of Dr. W. E. Deming’s writings.  It was that “The process was more important than the outcome or results.”

Throughout my life I have tried to live by each of these.  It is not always easy to follow something that you know is true and that will make your life better and happier.  As the saying goes “There is many a slip between the cup and the lip.”  Knowing is not necessarily doing.  So, let’s look at how we can make our vacations and trips more fun and more meaningful.

“The journey is more important than the destination.”  As simple as this sounds, do you know what it means?  If we really knew the meaning not just in our heads but in our hearts, it would be difficult to ignore.  However, that is what most of us start off doing.  We plan a vacation or trip, and we talk more about where we are going than how we are getting there.  My father used to measure the success of a vacation by how quickly he could get to our endpoint.  He had no time to stop and see any attractions along the way.  He tried to avoid even stopping at a motel.  Most of the time, he would drive all night and let us sleep in the car along the way.  He would brag about how fast he could get someplace.  I hated trips with my father.  They lacked any semblance of fun.

When I started canoeing, I was obsessed with paddling as fast and as far as I could on each of my trips.  A good canoe mentor named Joe Conrad cautioned me that I should stop and smell the roses more often.  Once I heeded his advice, my canoeing became more fun.  Even along a lazy winding rural river, there are so many sights to see along the way.

I am sure that you have often heard that “I need a vacation from my vacation.”  Whenever, I hear this, I think of my first trip to Europe.  We rented a car and tried to see every European country (Almost) in a week.  A friend of mine warned be about this “American” tendency but I did not heed his advice.  It was not until Karen and I returned, burnt out, unhappy, and unsmiling, that the wisdom of his words hit home.  I resolved to spend more time in only one country and never try to do the “grand tour” of the world again.  Since then, my vacations have been fun and each one of our trips has only gotten better.

huangshan-sunrise-1140-2Somedays when we are on vacation, we do not go anywhere.  We stay in a small apartment in some recently found village or town and cook meals, talk, and take walks around the area.  No great jaunts to see any “Seven Wonders of the World.”  Most of our trips are not cruises so we have few schedules.  We get up when we want to.  We go out when we want to.  We see what we want to, and we come back when we want to.  Often the sights that we see along the way are unscheduled and not in any travel guides.  We became friends with a Swiss couple at a soccer match we happened to stop and watch one night.  We traveled in China to a mountain where we spent the day climbing with a couple whom we met in China.  The next morning all of us watched the sun rise over the mountain tops.

flamingo-restaurant

In a little taverna in Naxos, we would sit every evening on the beach and eat fried squid, drink a local liquor, and watch the sunset.  We did this every evening for two weeks and never got bored.  Our one side trip to Santorini was a waste of a day.  We followed the advice that “EVERYONE” gave us when they said, “You must see Santorini!’  We spent two hours in a smelly boat getting there and it was one big tourist trap.  As for the beauty of the bay, it was undeniable, but we had the same and many more beautiful sights on our little island.

What are the obstacles to “smelling the roses?”   I would list the three major obstacles as follows:

  • Missing events in favor of things
  • Bragging rights
  • Time traps

france-paris-tour-eiffel-sylvain-sonnet

Missing events:

There are always many sights to see on any trip.  Many of these sights are famous and well worth seeing.  Many of them can also be very touristy.  However, you would not want to go to Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower or Louvre.  But there are also many events that are always happening in small and large towns.  Unfortunately, you cannot find most of these events on tourist guides because they are usually local events that may happen yearly or only occasionally.  I am thinking of the flea market at Portobello Road where Karen and I spend a day just wondering around looking at the things for sale.  I am also thinking of the Tokyo Fish Market when I got up at 5:30 AM to go see the hundreds of fish vendors and how they sell the widest assortment of fresh seafood that I have ever seen in my life.  I might forget the Louvre, but I will never forget the Tokyo Fish Market.

tokyo

Rule 1:  Take time to seek out events on a trip. 

Bragging rights:

So, who doesn’t want some bragging rights.  Yes, I saw the Tower of London and the crown jewels.  Yes, I saw the Sistine Chapel.  Yes, I saw the Acropolis.  But you know what, none of my friends or parthenon-facts-thumbnailrelatives cared.  There are things you are told that you must see.  Ask yourself why?  Then make a list of the things that YOU really want to see.  I went to a Baptist Revival Meeting once when I was in Birmingham, Alabama.  It was a three-hour old-fashioned tent revival meeting complete with an altar call.  Being a devout Atheist, I thought I would be lynched when the service was over.  Instead, many people came up to Karen and I and after some brief chit chat invited us to a large pot-luck dinner.  We declined but were touched at the hospitality and friendliness of the church goers.  I wondered if I was Black would I have received the same invitation?

Rule 2:  Do not let ego overrule your own idea of what would be fun and interesting.

Time traps:

  • I would love to join you, but I must be at such and such a place!
  • Sounds like fun, but I really do not have the time!

portobello-road-prime.-toppic

I have heard so many excuses from retired people in respect to not having the time to do things that it simply boggles my mind.  People dream to be retired so that they can have the time to do what they would like to do but instead weigh themselves down with to-do lists and schedules that would cross a rabbi’s eyes.  Some people like Tevye thought it was a matter of having enough money.

“If I were rich, I’d have the time that I lack to sit in the synagogue and pray

And maybe have a seat by the Eastern wall

And I’d discuss the holy books with the learned men, several hours every day

And that would be the sweetest thing of all.”  — Fiddler on the Roof

In truth friends, it is neither time nor money which we lack, it is usually the will.  If you are retired or on vacation or have a day off, you probably have a choice over what you must do.  However, if you are governed by a should list or a must list, you will be a slave to time and money.  We can only free ourselves from these constraints by a power of the will.  Making a choice in our lives over what is important.

I am not saying that we don’t have schedules and that time and money are not important.  But we all know people that seem to accomplish so much more than we do.  We scratch our heads at the abilities of these people.  But do we ever stop to think that they have no more time and often no more money than we do?

When I say that it is a matter of will, I am talking about thinking about our real priorities and acting on them for the long term.  That good friend that invited you over for dinner might not be around next year.  That invitation to go on a trip might not be possible in the future.  Karen and I once went on a fantastic seven-day cruise on a 182-foot-tall ship named the Sir Francis Drake.  Thirty crew and eighteen passengers with a draft that allowed us to sail in the shallowest bays all added up to a trip that we will never forget.  We put off many times going on another trip with this vessel.  Then one day we read that the Sir Francis Drake was moored in a Honduran harbor when a hurricane hit.  The next morning the ship was gone.  It had washed out to sea and sank.  The old saying “never put off till tomorrow what you can do today” instantly came to my mind.”

Rule 3:  Get your priorities straight.  Life is short

As always, I welcome your comments and would love to hear your trip or vacation advice.  What are your favorites trips?  What made them fun?  What would you do different?

14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Wayne Woodman
    Nov 28, 2022 @ 13:26:32

    John, I am with you on this one and love nothing better than an unplanned vacation. However, there are times when the destination is the vacation so getting there is simply an interlude in time. Other times the journey is part of the vacation and much appreciated. We did a couple of “planned” vacations early in our retirement and quickly discovered those didn’t work for us but the ones where we simply wandered and discovered were much nicer.
    Thanks for sharing.

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    • Dr. John Persico Jr.
      Nov 28, 2022 @ 18:16:47

      Hi Wayne, I guess its just that spontaneity is part of the adventure we hope to find when we go on a trip. Its too bad we cannot package and sell or even give it away. I think many people would enjoy just wandering and discovering new things with little or no planning. However, I do think as you noted that we must plan some or we will not even have our trip tickets. I wonder who bought the tickets for all the adventurers we read about. You never hear of Indiana Jones going to a ticket office or ticket agent. The more mundane aspects of ones adventure tend to be forgotten by the movies and tv. Thanks for taking the time to comment. I always appreciate your insights. John

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  2. jacobp81
    Nov 28, 2022 @ 18:18:03

    Nice. I skipped over some of it at the end. But to slow down enjoy the journey and have the will to go out and take the trip, those our good points.

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    • Dr. John Persico Jr.
      Nov 30, 2022 @ 17:27:23

      I always liked the quote that “where there is a will, there is a way.” Seems appropriate Jacob. Thanks for the comment. John

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  3. Jane Fritz
    Nov 28, 2022 @ 19:32:11

    We’ve been very fortunate in that we’ve been traveling all our lives, and have never tried to fit in more than would work because we knew there’d be a next time. We also minimized frustrations by not trying to do all the planning purses except in places where it made sense. When we lived in London the first two years we were married (late 60s!) we were able to explore most of Europe, including Russia, on organized camping trips/tours with other young people and a driver in a minivan. It definitely affected our openness to group travel later on. There lots of pros along with the cons. The main thing is to manage your expectations.

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    • Dr. John Persico Jr.
      Nov 30, 2022 @ 17:26:37

      Expectations are key managing life as well I think Jane. You were lucky or smart to travel when you wee much younger. It was probably less costly, more fun and not as stressful. Karen and I are still planning more trips but I don’t think they will be as frequent. John

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      • Jane Fritz
        Nov 30, 2022 @ 18:27:13

        You’re right, we were very lucky. And there were FAR fewer people travelling in the early years as well, as well as travelling being so much less complicated. But there are so many amazing places to visit. I recommend choosing trips that are as easy on you both as possible, so you can relax, enjoy yourselves, and take it all in. 😊

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        • Dr. John Persico Jr.
          Nov 30, 2022 @ 21:07:18

          Jane, We have decided to go to South Africa in October of next year 2023. We are relying on a tour place to setup our agenda with our input. Only six people on the tour and so far just Karen and I. I am taking your advice and doing less of the trip prep so I can enjoy the trip more. It will cost more this way but being we are nearing the end of the line, we don’t want to take it with us. John

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          • Jane Fritz
            Nov 30, 2022 @ 21:20:13

            John, that is absolutely perfect. You will LOVE it! We were there in 1970 before we returned to Canada, being taken everywhere (and camping) with SA friends we’d met in London. Then we were there again in 2001 when our younger son and now-wife lived in Botswana for 2 years. The game viewing is extraordinary and the scenery and culture full of variety. A wonderful choice!

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  4. Aletha Cress Oglesby, M.D.
    Nov 30, 2022 @ 14:31:29

    Dr. John, my husband and I have found this to be true many times. Often, the popular, famous tourist sites are so crowded, no one can enjoy them. We love finding quaint restaurants, book and gift shops, and local museums that aren’t listed in the popular guide books. On a trip to Greece last year for an Apostle Paul tour we skipped the optional cruise to Santorini so I’m glad to read we didn’t miss much. Our most memorable trips done as volunteers to countries all over the world; it is a unique way to get to know the people and how they live. Thanks for a enjoyable article.

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    • Dr. John Persico Jr.
      Nov 30, 2022 @ 17:24:40

      Thanks so much for your comments Dr. Aletha. I would love to hear more about your trips. Sounds like they have been unique and memorable. Where are you planning to go next? John

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      • Aletha Cress Oglesby, M.D.
        Nov 30, 2022 @ 20:19:00

        At our stage of life I think our overseas mission work is done, but we try to support others who do. We hope to take a tour of Israel in the next couple of years. And my husband still wants to see Paris again; he visited there a couple of days when he was in the Army and stationed in Germany.

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        • Dr. John Persico Jr.
          Nov 30, 2022 @ 21:10:31

          Dr. Aletha, Makes me thing that there are so many places to see and so little time to see them. In a hundred lives, I would probably never get to see all the places I would like to see. And then go back to see some again. Oh well, I read tonight that happiness does not precede gratitude but gratitude precedes happiness. I need to be grateful for the 35 countries we have visited and not bemoan the 145 that we did not see. Fun though to think about it. John

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