My wife and I, and our 14-month-old son, just got back to Provo, Utah after spending three months in Texas for an internship with Hewlett Packard. After the trip was over, we were a little surprised to see that we drove a total of 6,000 miles during those three months! It is only 1,300 miles from Utah to Texas, so that means we drove 2,600 miles getting there and back, and 3,400 miles while in Texas!
To us, the 1,300 mile trip each way seemed like a big deal. We had the car checked out, mapped several possible routes, planned out lunch stops and hotels, and packed enough food to feed everyone on the freeway system between Provo and Dallas a pretty solid meal. We were prepared. Little did we know we would travel much more than 1,300 miles once we got to our destination. The real trip began right after we arrived. The two big milestones we planned for turned out to be small compared to the miles traveled in between.
Small trips, quick excursions, and everyday errands turned into 3,400 miles of travel over the summer. Though we did not pack snacks, plan breaks along the way, or get the car checked out ahead of time, these little trips had a much larger impact on our overall experience than the two “big” road trips did. This may seem like a no-brainer for road trips- but I think we ignore this principle in regular life far too often.
What if the things we think matter are actually just tiny little turns compared to all the miles in between? How often do we think: Once I get a promotion, I will relax and spend more time with family. Once I graduate, I will have more time to serve at church. When we move into our new house, I will get to know the neighbors. When my kids are a little older, I’ll have time to….
We travel many more miles between our life milestones than we realize, and it is those in-between miles that matter. It is up to us to decide what we do with those miles and make sure they are not wasted. If we are not careful, we’ll realize too late that milestones come and go and it is the life we live before and after them that really matters, not the milestones at all.
The question is: How do you keep everyday moments in focus while working towards larger milestones?