“For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself…” ~ Viktor Frankl
It is a long drive to get to the north coast from the center of Jamaica. A journey of perhaps 30 miles (or 20 as the crow flies) may take up to three hours! Or at least it did fifty years ago. You can imagine the fun being cramped in a station wagon with six or seven of your family members, knowing that a day at the beach will consist of maybe two hours actual beach time and six or seven hours on the road. Not to mention breaks for those suffering the effects of the pot-holed, twisting, climbing, falling country road. Then there are those unplanned break downs. Thank goodness for the shade tree mechanics who would appear from the bush and work miracles with a rag and a spanner!
But to this child, the whole adventure was worth it. Especially as there might be a prize (maybe sixpence – worth a dime or so?) for the first one to glimpse the sparkling Caribbean Sea as we finally came around the corner above Runaway Bay. Cheers would erupt from the tortured passengers in the back of the car and all of the discomfort of the journey would be forgotten. We learned a lot about patience and endurance on those long road trips. As we drove up through the verdant hills of north Clarendon and then down through the garden parish of St. Anne, I am not sure that we appreciated the beautiful terrain. I am sure that we played games of I-spy, or sang, or tried not to make each other crazy.
When we made the same trip as a group of Sunday School and youth group members, we would travel in the slowest bus in Clarendon (with apologies to the family of Mr. Charlton), the Chapelton Special. But those trips were memorable for the time spent in the bus as much as the time in the warm tropical water. Singing, chatting, laughing, telling stories, the whole day was an escape from our daily routine and chores. We would sing choruses and church songs loudly and with glee. Soon we would slip into a more current festival song, then a Bob Marley song until our chaperones realized we had gone secular, and would fix frowning looks of disapproval on us until we returned to the religious genre.
We tend to lose sight of the sheer pleasure of living, lured by the goals of things to come. We are encouraged to set our sights on short term and long term goals, in order to accomplish our dreams. And this is not altogether a bad thing, it may be what we need to inspire and motivate ourselves to change our reality, and reach for opportunities to grow. But if we forget to enjoy the journey, if we so focus on the goal that we miss the everyday joy of being alive, we are short-changing ourselves. For we can find fun in the small exchanges of lighthearted conversation with co-workers, we can find reasons to laugh at adversity. We can stop and listen to the story of someone trapped in a diseased body, who longs for the freedom to just get up and go. We can read of the struggles of people far away, who need only a chance at clean water to improve their health and the life expectancy of their children.
Sometimes it is the simplest things that can bring us the most delight. But the secret lies in appreciation; using all of our senses to appreciate and show gratitude for the bounties of our life. I am sure those who are looking at another snow-filled weekend may appreciate the beauty of nature’s splendor from the comfort of a heated home, although digging out from under may not be so pleasant! But experience teaches us that everything passes and soon shall come the Spring.
Frankl, who provided the quote at the top of the page, also reminds us that we always have freedom to choose our attitude, and when we cannot change our situation, we can change our attitude. Sometimes a simple flip of the switch helps us to look for the positive in a situation, instead of focusing on the negative. Finding the humor is a good way to flip the switch. Taking ourselves and our individual problems too seriously is a good way to add lines to your face, and shorten your life!
When you live your life with an appreciation for the moment, finding joy and laughter in the little things, not totally consumed on the goal, you will be surprised to find happiness as the by-product, not the end in itself.
Have fun today Family! Look for ways to turn your chores into games; observe the wonders of a changing sky; call up a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while; do a kindness without looking for reward or recognition; celebrate being on this planet today with millions of strangers, hurtling around the sun on a spinning globe. Life is just for living, so let’s enjoy each moment, every breath we take with simple gratitude for the gift we have been given.
Have a wonderful weekend!