Life is not a Mission. It’s a Journey.
It’s the end of August. It’s hot, people are exhausted and irritated. It’s the “Back to School” spirit of September. I am thirty-hmmmmmm years old, and my internal clock is still set to the rhythms of the school year. If only I could buy a scented candle that smells like Trapper Keepers and pencil shavings… I would probably…not buy it. Whatever they made it with couldn’t possibly be good for you. Then again, “Pumpkin Spice” is probably not much better for you. But I digress.
September is similar to New Year’s Eve and Ash Wednesday. The air is full of possibilities. I view it as an opportunity to re-evaluate life. What am I doing right? What am I doing wrong? What am I avoiding? Guilt over my shortcomings inevitably creeps in, reminding me of all that I’m not doing to improve my life, my relationships, my bank account. I can really let this take me into a neurotic death spiral.
This year, and maybe every year going forward, I’m going to read this when I get bummed:
I keep reading about the stress levels rising in the college-bound in our society. There is a new article or study out every day now about how the counseling centers at Universities nationwide are overwhelmed with students with high levels of anxiety and severe and sometimes crippling symptoms of depression. About how our young adults are not prepared to cope with the stressors of the life they have to face.
I keep shouting into the hurricane force winds of College SAT Prep workshop flyers zipping past me , but most days I can’t even hear myself.
Why am I not ensuring that my own teenage daughter has every possible advantage in being successful in life, knowing what I know? Reading what I’m reading?
Because life is not a mission.
See, you can f*ck up a mission. But you can’t f*ck up an adventure.
Life is an adventure.
Anyone who tries to tell you different is a liar or is trying to sell you something.
Don’t believe me?
If you have to get from Point A to Point B in X amount of time with Y amount of usable resources to start with and Z amount of valuable resources left, otherwise you lose or everybody dies, that’s a mission.
That’s not life.
If you are going to get from Point A (which we know) to Point B (which is yet to be determined) in an unknown amount of time with an unknown amount of usable resources to start with and an unknown amount of valuable resources left, then you die (and so does everybody else): now that’s an adventure!
I’m not saying you go into an adventure without a good head on your shoulders. A few resources go a long way towards having an interesting and comfortable journey. A few qualities like honesty, curiosity, some humility, and a good work ethic come in handy. Asking for and being willing to receive help are also good.
And no one goes out on an adventure without at least some planning. You don’t go backpacking into the mountains without some preparations. But if you try to put something in your pack for every possible opportunity or disaster, pretty soon your pack will be so heavy you can’t carry it.
My main point is that there’s no one right way to have an adventure. You can’t fail to have an adventure…unless you just don’t go have one.
Go have one. Go have an adventure. Go have a great life.