• James McNeil

The importance of enjoying the journey

When I was a kid, my parents enjoyed taking spontaneous vacations. We would all pile in the car and drive. My brother and I typically did not know where we were going, and since this was an age before hand-held video games and such, we had a choice. We could either sit in the back seat and read, or we could watch the scenery go by.

As a kid, I did not have the love of reading I do today. I also got carsick very easy. So as a result, I did not look out the window at the scenery. I have to admit, this did not make me a very good passenger, as all I wanted to know was “are we there yet?” (Yes, I was that kid.)

Imagine for a moment how different those car rides could have been if I had learned to enjoy the ride instead of focusing on the destination. My parents tried. They would tell me over and over that the key was enjoying the ride, but I was focused on the destination. “When we get to ______, I’ll have a good time.”

I’m also sad to say that outlook followed me for years. It affected the way I lived before the military as well as during my time there. I was so focused on how to quickly “arrive” at my goal that I did not take the time to simply enjoy the journey to get there.

I look at things a little differently now. I will not try to say I’ve completely changed, but I am starting to understand why it’s so important to enjoy the drive, not just think about how great it will be when I get there.

I’m also learning to apply this to the journey of overcoming the obstacles that lead to suicidal thoughts and ideations. It truly is a journey. Every day instead of only focusing on what life will be like without these obstacles, I say to myself that I get to overcome them. Notice the keyword there. I’m not saying, “It’s time to make the donuts” and complaining that I have to do this. I am saying I get to do this. That one shift in focus makes all the difference.

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