We left each morning at about nine o’clock and drove without a break until noon, when we would stop at the side of the road, make a picnic lunch, boil water to do dishes, pack everything up again and strike off from about one o’clock until four or four-thirty, when we would stop to make camp for the night. I can only imagine what would have caused my father to institute a ‘NO ASKING “Are we there yet?” RULE’
We must have asked this relentlessly at some point but in my personal memory, I can only recall being very clear on the rule about NOT asking.
With this being the time of summer when no doubt thousands of families are striking off on road trips, perhaps equipped with more modern conveniences than we had, I suspect that this question is being banned in vehicles all across the country, by parents, like my dad, who are doing their best to just ‘get there’.
I remember sitting in the hot car, and when we were not singing to pass the miles we would talk about the possibility of there being a secret, underground road, that could get us to ‘the farm’, our magical destination where we would spend days playing with our beloved cousins, much more quickly. I recognize now, that when we ‘got there’ we really did know that we were somewhere special and we cherished every moment of our holiday.
As I reflect on my more recent life, I notice that I’ve not been as consistent with my acknowledgement of ‘getting there’ as I could be. How often have I found myself wishing to have some event hurry-up-and-get here only to forget to appreciate what I had when I was standing in the moment.
How many of us have wished to get a job, (I want this so badly; I don’t know what I’ll do if I don’t get it; it’s perfect for me) only to get it and then to find ourselves complaining about how tired it is making us. Or what about wishing for time off work, only to complain about how the weather didn’t cooperate. Or wishing we would have children, only to end up wishing for time for ourselves. Or finding we have time to ourselves when our children are grown, only to wish we had a full table once again. Or wishing that, just for once, we could come home to a clean house, only to find ourselves missing the familiar signs of an active family.
How many times have we prayed for doors to open for us, then walked through that door and not even notice that yes, ‘we are there yet’.
It’s easier as I get older to recognize the fleetingness of life. Where as the miles to New Brunswick felt like they were passing in very slow motion, the milestones in my life pass by in a blur. It is only by my consciously telling myself to take a breath, to slow down, to take it all in, to enjoy it right now, am I able to bring some of the sense of wonder into my current life that I had when I spent those precious weeks on ‘the farm’.
This past Tuesday, I was out for my ‘long ride’ with my friend, and training partner, Rhonda. We’re getting ready for the Sea-to-Sky Gran Fondo, a 125km bike race from Vancouver up to Whistler, BC. We’ve set aside Tuesdays as the day we do our long rides together. On the other days we each do our own shorter rides. Every Monday, I get excited and nervous for Tuesday. I get nervous because I doubt my ability on the difficulty and distances (we’re now up to 90km) and I get excited because I LOVE being out on the hills in the mountains. Despite the conflict of emotions, I keep wanting Tuesday to arrive.
Without exception, on every single one of our Tuesday rides, we have found ourselves biking along when one of us says to the other, ‘Can you believe this? How lucky are we to be out here in this beauty?’ This past week, Rhonda commented as we pedaled, ‘I cannot believe that these hills get more pretty each week.’
Both of us are smart enough to know that ‘We are there yet’. We may not be at the starting line of the race, yet we are ‘there’. We are right in the place we will remember for many years. The gun for the race will sound and race day will pass in a flash, but this part, the training part, the part like this past week where we panicked and pedalled for all we were worth when we passed a bear, and we braked and stopped in our tracks when a wolf crossed in front, or the part when we took a lunch break at a picnic table and relished the silence, this is the part where we are smart enough to know that yes, ‘we are there yet’.
When I was working as a teacher, I often wished I had just one day a week when I could treat myself to a long bike ride with a friend. I am there. And I am not letting this go unobserved by me.
Nor am I letting some other things go unobserved. Like my weeks of Stampede Dancing; I am definitely there yet. And time with our children and their spouses; I am there yet. And minutes with Benjamin; I am there yet. And Sunday bike rides with Jim; I am there yet. And phone calls and texts from friends and family; I am there yet. And facilitating workshops with incredible groups; I am there yet. And even eating ice cream cones on summer nights; I am there yet.
This week as you enjoy this middle of summertime, take time to notice that you just may be standing in the middle of something you once longed for. Take time to ‘be there yet’.
My inquiry for you this week is, ‘Am I there yet?’
Elizabeth is a life and leadership coach in Calgary, AB. She provides leadership coaching for individuals and groups and she creates and facilitates custom workshops for corporate, public and private groups. Contact Elizabeth to help you or your organization to figure out how to become more ‘there yet’.