As I sit here at home, in a 6×10 space that until recently served as our pantry/laundry room, but is now also my office/gym, I’m – well, I’m super excited. See, there was a time that I didn’t have anywhere in my home to…office. I barely had anywhere to office in my office. Even at my old job (in the days of yore, that simpler time of on-site officing), my desk was crammed in the frigid cold, very dark, north corner of the second floor. The spot NOBODY wanted. And honestly, I loved that. As an introvert craving isolation, I had come to romanticize tiny and rejected spaces so much that I came to look at every dark and scary corner as a guarantee to privacy. And even though my adult life has predominantly been years of crowding, and ULTRA-shared space, and bunk-bedding, I can now see all of that forced togetherness for what it ultimately meant: progress. Part of the journey to appreciation.
The point is that all of those years of upheaval and sharing and raging at space invaders led to now – a time when I am overjoyed to have an office in the pantry, even though people are still walking right in to get soup without thinking about it, even though they’re cruising right on through to go on into the garage without considering that maybe I need the solitude or that maybe I’m working. Younger and far-less patient me would grab my shit and storm off into the bedroom, maybe with a solid door slam for good measure. Current and far-lazier me can just pop in earbuds, look around at the freshly-painted walls, and deadass cherish the fact that I finally have my own office. All of the years of discomfort before this was necessary, because it was all part of the journey to appreciation that I now have.
And all of us – every one of us – is on a journey to appreciation.
There are so many things we can blame for our tendency to focus on destinations, rather than what got us to them. For example, movies are great at unwrapping a whole plot of struggle, only to neatly conclude, mostly to everyone’s satisfaction, within a couple of hours. (By the way, here’s a great list of extreme cinematic happiness to make you forget anything negative in your life rn). I think the perception with a journey is that it implies moving forward. So when we stall, or break down, we somehow think we’ve failed, or are less than.
Even the 90-minute movie devotes a bulk of that time to the struggle. Even the three-minute song presents a problem before crowing about victory in the chorus (except if it’s a country song, probably). Before and After pictures in an Instagram story show us how much we’re rooting for success, how much we want to believe anything is possible, but that doesn’t make it any easier to step away from the chocolate two midnights later.
We’re human, so of course we just want to choose the good parts of the life buffet. We want the beautiful wedding cake, but we don’t want the struggles of the marriage. We want that CEO title, but we don’t want the months of work in the mail room. And who really DOES crave struggle? Even if you’re Eeyore as all hell, you secretly want happiness, right? Whatever your journey is, remember that racing there tends to add stress and subtract enjoyment. So wherever you’re going, man…just remember that every part of it is STILL the journey.
It’s the WHOLE ACT. It’s the speeding up AND the slowing down. It’s the shortcuts AND the pit stops.
Also, sometimes there’s scenery or a big ball of twine or whatever.
And at the end, you really just want it to be fun.
And it is fun. The first home you had as an adult – even though there were BB holes in all the walls, and those walls really weren’t walls so much as paneling nailed over studs, and you’d just go buy new dishes instead of wash the ones you had because those people your roommate hung with were sketch as hell and you weren’t touching stuff they touched – it was still FUN. You still had that whole sense of adventure of being on your own, doing your own thing, scavenging for change in that gross couch, collecting cans and turning them in for more change. You still had stories.
Can you imagine how boring everything would be if we all started out in the winner’s circle? Not to mention how uncomfortably crowded? (And how healthy is that, in this day and age!?)
Nah. The journey is what makes the successful arrival feel so much better.
So it is today that I ask you to take a moment to remember a time that you definitely had it worse than you do now. Remember every single thing you can about it. And then breathe. Look around. You’re almost certainly still not where you want to be.
But man, what a ride it’s been, huh?