Are we there yet?

A phrase from childhood.  What does that make you think of?  Remember when getting to the next place was so exciting you just could not wait?  Sometimes in life we can forget that getting to the next place is not always what’s important.  Sometimes it’s the journey.

Both of my parents were born and raised in West Virginia.  My father was a Marine and served in the Korean War.  When he returned and they married, they were faced with the decision of where to build their life together and raise their own family.  At the time, the area where their families lived did not offer much in terms of job prospects and the “boom” of their time was in the Great Lakes region in factories and industrial plants.  And so they embarked on that leg of their journey.

Both of my parents were determined to create a family centered life that offered love, security and opportunities based on education and service.  They worked hard to achieve their dream and were always seeking out a way to learn more and give more.  My Dad worked in a factory on the second shift.  Because the job wasn’t all that challenging for him mentally, he saved money to be able to buy a small portable radio to break the monotony of the time.  And he listened and learned from Earl Nightingale.  He also put what he learned into action.  As a result, the factory life didn’t last long.

He was a good mechanic.  Probably a great mechanic.  So he opened a garage and specialized in fixing foreign-made cars.  He understood the value of scarcity and integrity.  He built a business around those principles.

In that time, garages or service stations as we called them were independently owned and they had contracts with the oil companies to sell particular brands of fuel.  When those companies decided to own the gas stations themselves, business owners such as my Dad were faced with either going to work for them or finding a new venture.  For my Dad, it was clear that he would find his next venture.  A friend of the family had already relocated to Texas and was working with the company that would bring Caterpillar equipment into the region.  When he found out my Dad was looking for an opportunity, he knew he had the right one for him.  And he did.  So once again, my family relocated – this time to Texas.  And once again my Dad’s integrity, ability to work with people and to recognize every opportunity to generate value for a customer brought the next season of success.

As you can see, in our home, the highest values other than family and faith were hard work, education and service.  Those values remain with me now.  And those are the values I have worked to instill in the next generations coming up behind me.  But the other message of this story is that quite often, moving on is essential to finding the next opportunity.  There does not have to be fear about it because the important things, the ones that matter, go with us as we progress on the journey.

No, we are not there yet.  Perhaps we never will be.  I tend to think of destinations now rather like perfection.  Somewhat of a delusion.  Rather I like to think of them as stops along the way.  It’s about the journey and taking each opportunity as it shows itself.  Always remaining true to our core values while allowing ourselves to grow.   One of my favorite thoughts on this subject comes from Andrew McCarthy – actor turned travel writer and publisher:

“There’s a certain moment in every memorable journey, often recognized only in hindsight, when the trip you are on presents itself, and the one you thought you were taking or had planned is jettisoned. It’s then that you begin really traveling, not merely touring.”

In closing, I’ll borrow from Shakespeare – someone who certainly understood the art of possibility within the journey.

“To unpathed waters, undreamed shores.”