I played soccer on an elite team as a youth.  We traveled all over the country for tournaments, and all of us ended up playing soccer in college.  Our summers, and falls, and winters and springs were consumed with soccer, and we loved it…most of the time.  I was blessed to receive private training from our coach on a regular basis.  She often tried to teach me life lessons in the midst of soccer training, most of which meant nothing at the time, but have begun to sink in in recent years.

One such lesson she tried to teach me was to enjoy the process and not obsess so much about  stats and outcomes.  The way she phrased it was, it’s the journey, not the destination.  I understood the meaning of the words, but lacked the mental faculties to actually integrate this into my life.  I mean, it’s all about the destination, the arriving, the winning the tournament, etc.

An episode that clearly reveals my lack of comprehension of this lesson occurred after we had just won the National Championship.  We were in Phoenix, AZ for the tournament, and amazingly won.  We were the best team in the country in our age group that year.  We were at the top.  Any logical person would relish in that for a little while, enjoy the victory, and allow it all to sink in.  But as we walked off the podium after the awards ceremony, my thought was, okay, when do we start training again?  After all, we had just reached one destination, it was time to recalibrate, and begin the pursuit to the next goal.

I now see the wisdom in my coach’s words, but I still sometimes struggle with enjoying the process, and not solely focusing on the end result.

My children, however, have a much different approach to life.  They want to enjoy the trip along the way.

Take lunchtime, for example.  My approach is – goal: consume food so that I can get back to the ‘important’ things…whatever that happens to be at the moment.  My children on the other hand have different plans.  Lunch is a time for fun.  Not throw the food on the walls ‘fun,’ but enjoying the meal.  Enjoying the process of sitting together, talking, joking, having their imaginary friends participate as they tell stories with their food.  Left to themselves, lunch can easily take well over an hour for this very reason.  AND IT DRIVES ME CRAZY.

Just eat your food already.  Let’s get on with the day already.  These are my thoughts.

But today, as my children enjoyed their midday meal, I decided to join in the fun.  I goofed around with my son as he played with his noodles.  I laughed with the girls as the joked with each other.  I tried to enjoy the process of eating a meal together, apart from the end goal of simply checking off that task from my to-do list.

I suspect that if I do not learn to do that more often, as my kids get older, they too will develop a ‘let’s get it over with’ attitude.  The opportunity to sit around the table with them, converse with them, and enter their world may very well cease if I fail to embrace it now.  What a gift to have children who enjoy talking to each other and spending time with each other.  What a shame if I fail to encourage that.  What a shame if, when they are 15, 14, 12 I can’t get them to sit for 5 minutes because I had taught them that the goal wasn’t to enjoy each others company, but to merely finish the task (of eating).

So thank you Sue, for teaching me to enjoy the journey, and not simply look towards the destination.  And thank you for helping me to reevaluate what that destination should be anyways.