So often when I watch my five-year-old daughter, I wonder where she gets all the energy from. I mean, every morning she gets up like a spring and doesn’t stop moving for most of the day. Most importantly, she doesn’t stop being excited about her life. Everything is an exciting adventure. “Yippee, the dentist!” Yippee, grocery shopping!”, “Yippee, the mall!”, “Yippee, watching football!”.
Okay, I admit the last one was wishful thinking. She doesn’t fall for that anymore. But anyway. I wished I could tap into her energy, and feel this unconditional excitement again. Not that I am not excited about anything anymore, but…
… ah yes. There is always a “but” to literally everything. And there are “what ifs.” Then there is this fear that things may not be as great as we hope.
And then I wonder, how great is great enough? How much fun is enough fun? Is going to Six Flags great? Yes, but what if there are long lines, what if we get stuck in traffic, what if we spend a lot of money and time and end up not having enough fun?
And then we stay home.
A friend once told me he is only rooting for the sports team that is most likely to win, because then the risk of being disappointed is the smallest. I’ ve always decided exactly the other way around. And yes, I have been more disappointed than not. But the few unexpected victories made up for everything.
Isn’t watching sports about hoping for those few unexpected events? That perfect run? That incredible catch? Isn’t it more fun when we forget about our expectations and just be happy that we can witness the games?
I am not sure at which point in our adolescence we stop being excited about the journey and care more about the destination. It is sad when that happens. Isn’t it?
And now think about an actual trip you made. Yes, I know it was a metaphor, but just do it, please. Did everything go smoothly? Did you get stressed out about possible problems even before they occurred?
The last trip we had was when we drove to Las Vegas and then LA a couple of weeks ago. Las Vegas is a 8 to 9 hours car ride from where we live, 10 hours with breaks. We made it in 8.
So much about breaks. We just wanted to get there, so we got up in the middle of the night. We knew the drill. Check-in is a pain if you get there too late. You cannot describe the scenery as very exciting for most of the ride, but we could have tried to guess which movies could have been filmed in this moonlike environment. Many, in fact were. But we didn’t choose to have fun, we chose to get there without compromises.
It is not that I hated the drive; I just cannot remember the first 8 hours of my summer vacation because of our determination to get there. I can remember that it rained when we arrived that first afternoon and we couldn’t go into the pool as planned. So much about planning.
Half way into the trip in LA, when we had checked off all our to-dos, we decided to skip the planning. I don’t know if we had more fun then compared to the first few days, but the last ones are the ones I’ll remember. These were the days when all the expectations were exceeded, because we didn’t have any.
Since then, I try to have one day during the week when I ignore my tasklist and I just go with what I think is important at the moment. This one day never ends with regrets. And that feels great. Just great enough.