Always Arriving, Never Arrived

Going to the beach is just what people in Alabama do over spring break. Strike that, it’s what people in half the country do over spring break. That’s why the typically small town of Gulf Shores, Alabama gets overrun by beach dwellers across both Alabama and other states. A colorful cornucopia of license plates trail the cars parked in constant bumper-to-bumper traffic. It comes down to a simple fact. What’s the closest white, sandy, and most importantly warm beach from Birmingham, Alabama? It’s Gulf Shores.

Kentucky?
Ohio?
Minnesota?

Yeah, it’s Gulf Shores, along with the other (even more popular) tourist-trap beach towns across the Florida-Alabama coastline.

No matter where you’re starting from, getting there is really all the same. Find the exit to I-65 South closest to your house, set your cruise control, and highway hypnosis your way all the way to the beach. No matter where you start, be it Montgomery, Alabama or Louisville, Kentucky, it will invariably take one day to get there. Google Maps may say you’ll arrive in three hours. Google Maps is wrong.

Spend a week doing the same things you could do at home, except on vastly overcrowded (and overpriced) beaches. Then come back on Sunday by, you guessed it, finding the closest exit to I-65 North and praying no hungover beach-dweller wrecks the entire interstate. But it doesn’t matter, because even if they did, it would still take a day to get back. It’s inevitable.

As a traveler, there’s always a sense that you’re getting close to your destination but you’re never quite there. And, given enough time to think while driving, you come to the same conclusion in your own life. You’re always arriving, but you’ve never really arrived.

Sure, there are days when you feel so close to who you want to be; to how you envisioned your life being when you were a child in a world with fewer responsibilities and more opportunities for fun and rest. But life always seems to afford precious few opportunities for contentment, and even those moments contain the most sobering reminders that you are, at your core, not completely the person you want to be.

The most deep-rooted of feelings are the ones that nobody cares to talk about. So society boils them down to trite cliches disguised as words of advice.

“It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.”
“Not all who wander are lost.”
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Different people react to the frustration of never feeling self-actualized in different ways. Some are cruel, some are deeply antisocial, and some forcefully cling to a certain personality trait or skill which they think defines them. Really, what you have here is a case of the “human condition,” which, if you ask me, is yet another trite cliche which is lost it’s meaning long ago.

For lack of a better term, the human condition all comes down to this: between striving for financial success, dealing with frustrating family and friends, and being slightly too busy to fulfill all we’re capable of, we lose the parts of ourselves we’ve always dreamed of being.

This is a problem which may not have a solution. You may not ever be able to “have arrived,” but only ever experience the perpetual sense of “arriving.” However, it seems humanity favors those who actively try. There’s a romanticized notion for the travelers of the world; those who throw themselves into environments they are unfamiliar with in order to grow. And yet, people also admire the mentors, the teachers, and the public servants, who help individuals grow and become somebody important. Many of these people rarely leave their hometown, and yet they seem to have a more fulfilled heart than the ailing wanderer.

I’ve seen Ph.D. professors who are so frazzled and openly discontent with their lives that I feared they may fall apart on the spot at any moment. I’ve also seen custodians in the most humble of occupations who seem so content that I’d want to live in their shoes. And the reverse is true as well. So what gives? What is the common denominator?

What makes each of these people uniquely content? I don’t know. I have no facts to back up my claim, no testimonies to indicate commonality, and no psychological profiles to pull from for comparison. But I do have a sneaking suspicion I may know the answer.

These people know that they will never “have arrived.” They know they will always be “arriving.” They know that if they live on this earth a hundred years, a thousand years, or even a million years, that they will always be learning, aging, and maturing. They know that there is something to learn from everybody, and something everyone has to learn from you. They know they are imperfect, and freely admit that vulnerability to those who criticize them. These people are getting through life without ever taking life personally.

So, based on this new information, the information I obtained on my endless, not so endless drive to the beach and back, I think I’ll start by being humble, accepting what I don’t know, and always setting my mind to learning. I think maybe you, dear reader, should consider the same. After all, legend has it that it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. Perhaps that expression is not so devoid of meaning after all.

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A Romanticized Notion

 

You’ve been here before, and here you’ve returned to this very spot. At a crossroads in life, you find yourself unhappy with what you’re becoming and the places you’re headed. You stare out, deep into the night, and waves of discontentment suddenly come rolling in like breakers into the side of a cliff. You’ve traveled the same roads over and over again, wearing them down along with you. You’re ready for a change. Continue reading

The Best Times in Life

The best times in life are not when you’re trying to make money to satisfy the American dream. It’s not the times when the hustle and bustle of life causes you to run around spastically, trying with all your might to satisfy your responsibilities. This world’s riches my be the endgame of the majority of life’s denizens, but it does not render true contentment. The best times in life are the simplest. Continue reading

Battery Life

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Have you noticed that some people get worn out much faster than others? Think of each one of your friends. Which ones sleep a lot? Which ones are night owls? Each person has their own battery life.

My battery life is short, especially compared to other people my age. I require a minimum of 6 hours of sleep to function properly, and 8-9 to feel my optimum.

Maybe it’s just because I’m so physically big. I may simply require more food, water, and sleep than the typical person to maintain all 6 and a half feet of my body systems. But perhaps there’s more to it than that.

Maybe I’m drained because I try to get the most out of the life I do live. I think that a life in a groggy, coffee-filled stupor is no life at all. It’s why I’m a morning person; because I hit the ground running in my pursuit of a full life.

I chat with people and exhibit kindness no matter what hour. In my 8:00 a.m. classes, I’m myself while everyone else feels miserable. It’s quite a refreshing change from normalcy. 

The message here is simple, don’t stay up all night. While the night-life may seem fun, the real substance of life is found in the living, not the unstable pursuit of next Friday night. 

It’s quality over quantity. Life’s not worth it if it’s not lived to the fullest, and it’s worth sacrificing a little time to sleep. Believe me, it’ll help your time with friends be far more meaningful.

No, I’m not saying to sleep all of the time. There’s a word for that: lazy. But keep your battery charged. It is there you’ll find a life far more robust.

Everyone Just Needs to Relax

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There is a code that needs to be cracked.

Look around you. See anybody? If you’re on your smartphone, I’m almost positive you do. And I’ll bet you know what stresses them out. And I’ll bet you know what makes them grumpy.

I live a life where I try to detach myself from the things that affect me. Goodness knows I don’t always succeed, but I also don’t always fail. In my detachment, though, I’ve discovered some things. Mainly, I’ve discovered that everyone just needs to calm down. Life isn’t to be taken as seriously as it appears.

Stress exists. Schoolwork and job responsibilities are there whether you like it or not, so focusing on it every waking moment only makes you freak out. Debates will range, and encroach on your comfort zone. Don’t worry about it. Logic is just a system that, in fact, may not be all that logical in itself. And arguments do nothing but divide potential friends from ever connecting. Fashion is just a way to cover yourself with status and statements. And money is just everyone agreeing that pieces of paper are actually worth something. 

Your entire life is just a single page waiting to be flipped into eternity. People’s plots intertwining with another’s for a short time. And there’s nothing you can do about it, and there’s nothing you can ever do about it.

What does that leave me?

It leaves me turning the radio up and blasting electronic music out of the speakers; a thrill no coffee can accomplish. It leaves the rare smile on a person’s face when I tell them how good of a job they did on a project. It leaves taking in a beautiful day watching the clouds swirl above you. It leaves the people you love. It leaves you being awesome.

And most importantly, it leaves a spectrum of God’s love beaming through those that realize him. And you don’t have to look very hard before suddenly realize it’s blinding you. Despite the bad things that go on in the world, that love holds you strong. Suddenly you’ve got your head in the clouds and the perils of life becomes unimportant.

It leaves joy. It leaves so much incomprehensible joy. I don’t care what goes on in this life, I am undone by the glory of it all. 

I am loved. I am blessed. I rejoice.