I love these beautiful Sunday afternoons, especially the ones that are blue, bright and clear, but with a few clouds dotting the sky. Depending on the wind and the atmospheric influences, the clouds take on such unique and expressive shapes. The blueness of the sky behind them really helps create the depth and richness of the vast unknown, while accentuating the shape of each cloud. It’s probably irrelevant here, but my favorite color is blue, and when the sky is such a rich, deep blue, it lifts my spirit and suggests unlimited possibilities that life has to offer.
I was on my way to attend a concert of the Southwest Washington Wind Symphony, an incredibly talented assembly of music educators who not only teach their students, but they lead by example and maintain their musical talents. Their performances are always well-themed, exquisitely performed and provide a rich cultural experience in their home town of Vancouver, Washington. And, every concert is free to the general public, a wonderful gesture of giving back to their community and the families of the students they teach. Their concerts are always a treat and a place for me to lose myself in the wonder of the music.
It only takes me about fifteen minutes from my house to drive the distance to Union High School in Vancouver where the symphony performs. When I left the freeway and headed north on a hundred and ninety second, I became aware of all the new construction and the developing landscape along the way. What struck me at that moment was how all of the new sidewalks were crooked. Well, not exactly crooked, but not straight. I was noticing how the developers had intentionally made the sidewalks to meander back and forth in the direction up the street. This was different from what I had become accustomed to throughout my life, and I liked it.
I used to do a lot of walking, usually to get from one place to another, especially as a kid when I had no other means of transportation. Back then, and even until recently, it seemed that the sidewalks were straight and framed the streets, which was especially noticeable in the city.
When I walked from my home the six miles to my dad’s office, as far as I could see, the sidewalks were straight. So, for the most part, I was looking straight ahead as I made my trek, with minimal interest of what was going on around me. My objective was to get to my dad’s office for whatever reason, as quickly as I could. I was focused on getting there and really didn’t spend any time surveying my surroundings. I’m sure I missed a lot. I know I must have walked by a few hundred store fronts, but couldn’t really remember then or now, what they were if you asked me. I don’t even remember if there were trees or parks to distract me on my way. Now that I think about it, maybe that was unusual for a kid.
Getting back to today, I was especially interested in the way the sidewalks were no longer straight, but wandered along the road, weaving in and around trees, bus stops, small mounds of grass and other scenic distractions. It dawned on me what a great idea this new approach is for anyone using the sidewalk as their path along the way. Instead of walking down an endless sidewalk focused on the distance ahead of me, I am forced to follow the wandering sidewalk and see the landscape along the way. The winding path causes me to look to the right and see the trees, flowers and bushes making up the scenery. Then, as the sidewalk curves back to the left, I’m forced to look in another direction and see the sights situated there.
This approach causes me to slow down and enjoy the beauty that is built into and surrounds the pathway. Because of the winding sidewalk, I’m no longer able to look a long distance ahead of me. In fact, I’m somewhat limited to what I am able to see any farther than half a block away. More importantly, I am seeing things that I would have otherwise walked by without even acknowledging their existence. I’ve heard it said many times in a variety of ways, but it still comes out to express the same truth. It’s not the destination that brings the greatest value of the trip, but it’s the experiences enjoyed along the way. That is so true.
We often times get so caught up in life and trying to keep pace with the speed with which we have to move in this day and age, and it’s only getting faster, that we miss so much of what life has to offer. There are so many things we are going to get around to doing, some day, when we have more time or when circumstances change, yet very rarely do we get to that point as we’d thought. There is always something else to do Too many times, and too late in life, we realize how much we have missed and what we could have done. I’m speaking from experience.
For too many years, I was so focused on my career thinking that I would work really hard and fast, and I would get everything to a point when I could back off and have more time for myself, my other interests, and most important, for my family.
After years of pursuing that plan, I realized how much I had missed and would never be able to re-capture. Those opportunities and experiences were lost forever. Those things I missed with my two daughters and son would be regrets that I would have to live with for the rest of my life. I also realized that although those times were lost, I could start today to create new experiences and memories for the rest of my life….(.more)