It’s a classic childhood road trip story; each summer we would load up and drive to northern Minnesota for a week at the lake. It was a ten-hour drive, give or take, but as a kid it felt like forever. The first year was, frankly, awful. We were in the Caprice Classic, and my older sister and I made each other (and our parents) miserable the entire trip. Every year after, we borrowed the grandparents’ Winnebago, which provided some separation space and prevented wholesale bloodshed. We still managed to get all over each other’s nerves and the journey would drag on and on.

Knowing we had a destination helped; we could spot the landmarks and know we were getting closer. Towns like Cloquet (we always loved that name), Virginia, then finally Tower would tick past us, and the end was in sight. Our goal was reached!

When I was a kid, there was a finality about things in life. I was going to do this, I was going to be that. Some people see landmarks and destinations as the reason for it all; they want the fancy car, the expensive house, things to show they are successful. If those things honestly makes you happy, okay, but if it’s just to show off and have others see how “happy” you are, you are masking your truth.

It’s the Journey

Before I finally committed to getting healthy, I tended to think of fitness as a landmark. “If I can just lose 50 pounds, I will be able to do <insert activity or event>.” Actually, if I’m honest, that continued during the journey, and sometimes still. That’s not entirely unexpected; a big part of this has been setting goals and reaching them. Those goals were landmarks along the way, to be sure, but not the end game. This was never “one and done,” to hit some target and then go back to the way it was before.

No, this is about long term change and being my best me. I definitely envision some things about life three years, five years, ten years down the line, but less specific. More than anything, it’s about the way I feel. We had our monthly meeting with Mary Lee, our scholarship recipient, and she was talking about how many miles she ran this month, etc.

Numbers like that matter; benchmarks and measurables show progress in an objective way. She was disappointed in some of the numbers. That can happen – but how do you feel? Do you feel healthier, stronger, more confident? If so, then it’s working like it should. You can change your shape and clothes size without changing the scale. You can love yourself and who you are today without running a PR mile. The subjective matters – in some ways it’s even more important.

Worth the Ride

Hunter S. Thompson said, “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”

Now, I don’t recommend all of his techniques – but the point stands. Make it a journey worth taking, a life worth looking back on with no regrets. A life that saw you make the best of even your worst mistakes.

Your destination may not be, say, a 110-foot long hockey stick, but it still matters. How you get there, who you travel with, and how you feel when you arrive make it worth the journey. Don’t ignore the details – but don’t miss the ride, either!

World’s Largest Freestanding Hockey Stick, Eveleth, MN

Cover Photo by Yaopey Yong on Unsplash