The best lesson from Dad
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
My dad is a funny guy...funny "ha ha", not funny "weird". One of my favorite goofy things I can remember him doing happened when I was 18 and getting ready to go to college. The summer before I left for Tallahassee was a flurry of activity to get ready for the move. Admittedly, a lot of it was silly "girl drama"...had to meet with my assigned roomie several times to obsess about how we were going to decorate our room, trying to figure out who was bringing what (for functional items), my own daily add/delete of the list of things I was moving up there, etc. It should not have been so time consuming, but it was fun...I was just SO excited about starting my "adult" life, that I couldn't help "nesting" over it. I had SO much fun visualizing my college life that it took up all of my "free" thought time.
About 2 weeks before Dad had planned to bring me to school, he brought home a package. It was fairly large, and wrapped in brown shipping paper so that I couldn't see what was in it. I was not allowed to be in the same room with it. :) I wanted to know what was in that box (nosy...me!), and hounded him with questions until he admitted that it was for me, and he wasn't giving it to me until I left for college. Which drove me CRAZY!!! I had convinced myself that it must be something MAJOR, and was leaning towards it being a computer (which was a HUGE thing for an 18 year old kid to have back in 1997...most families didn't even have one because they were so expensive, and it was seen as a huge luxury to give one to a kid back then).
By the time we left, I had spent the entire two weeks trying to figure out what was in that box using x-ray vision, psychic powers, and good old fashioned whining. Nothing worked, and Dad wasn't spilling. :) Dad and I talked a lot on the 4 hour drive up there...mostly him trying to cram as much fatherly advice as he could into the last four hours he had of my being "a child". Some of Dad's advice is good, some a little odd ball ("Was it better than a sharp stick in the eye?" is one of his favorite things to tell me when something doesn't go the way I want it to). I tried to listen to everything, I really did...but four hours is a long time, and all I kept thinking about was the box in the back of the van...and what I was going to do with that computer once I got it unloaded at my dorm!
As we pulled up to my dorm, I was excited...but not because of the "new world" I was entering, I was excited to FINALLY open that stinking box! Dad being Dad, he insisted that we unload everything EXCEPT for that box and put everything away first. So we unloaded and started taking trips up to my dorm room. I was so focused on finishing the unload/unpack as quickly as possible, that I completely ignored everyone who smiled in my direction or tried to speak. I reminded him numerous times during the process that as soon as we were done, I was opening that box (enough that he threatened to leave if I didn't stop doing it). As soon as I placed the last article of clothing in my dresser, Dad sighed, and led the way down to the van.
Once in the parking lot, I finally got to touch the box. I didn't even wait to get back to the room to open it, and started shredding the paper right there in the lot. I held my breath and tore open the top of the box to find...ramen noodles. Package upon package of ramen. I was in shock...and turned to look at my father, who was already laughing so hard that he had tears in his eyes (300 packages of ramen noodles, in retrospect, was a pretty funny thing to give a college student.)
In that moment, in the seconds between registering I had just been given a giant box of Ramen and seeing my Dad's reaction, I learned the most valuable lesson of my life:
It's about the journey, not about the destination.
I wasted so much time that summer worrying about what was going to happen once I got to school, that I forgot to enjoy that summer. I didn't spend as much time with my friends as I should have, I didn't relax, I didn't LIVE during the last "free" summer of my life. Dad saw it, and came up with the ramen plan...I could have done anything over the last two weeks of that summer, and instead, obsessed about what ended up being a giant box of ramen. I should have enjoyed the only relaxed 4 hours of only Dad/Jessica time we'd ever had, and I worried about a box of ramen. I should have payed attention to the journey to Tallahassee (at that point, I couldn't have found my way home to save my life), and instead, focused on a box of Ramen. I should have worried about making a good impression about the other people who I was going to have to live with in the dorm for the next year, and I couldn't stop thinking about a box of ramen.
I think we all get like this sometimes on our journey to fitness...I catch myself doing it all the time! It's so exciting to imagine what life is going to be like once we reach "goal", that we forget to enjoy what is going on in our lives NOW! It's so easy to take the focus off of the good things we are doing for ourselves NOW, and instead focus on how much further we have to go. I don't want my journey to fitness to be a blur...I want to remember every minute of the trip; every day I play with my kids, every epiphany, every healthy habit I learn. I want to LIVE!! Thanks to Dad's lesson, I will!!
Have a great Tuesday everyone!!