Ponderings with Doug – December 28, 2018


There are two kinds of travelers.

There are those that pack two days ahead of departure, prepare a meticulous itinerary, map out the roads they will take, the stops they will make, and the timetable they will keep. These kinds of travelers pack first-aid kits, extra socks and underwear, and tuck energy bars, fruits, and water bottles into every aperture they can find in their luggage. Their cell phones are fully charged, and they have re-charging cords for every electronic device they carry – all with car adapters as well.

Then there are other kinds of travelers. You scrape clothes off the bedroom floor and chair (some clean/some not), stuff it into a backpack, grab keys and go. No toothbrush? Pick one up on the road. No map? More fun to just head in some general direction (“north”) and see what comes their way. Side roads, cut-offs, short-cuts, long-cuts, and detours are all part of the adventure. For these travelers there may be an ultimate destination in mind. But wherever they find themselves they are never “lost” – just getting where they are going by a different route.

These two types of travelers can also be described as “traveling with children” and “traveling without children.”

Anybody know what I’m talking about?

Leonard Sweet tells this story about traveling with children.

“I recently took my two youngest kids (12, 10) on a trip to South Africa. The flight from Washington, D.C. to Johannesburg is the second longest flight in existence (the longest being a flight from Singapore to LA). We carefully packed necessities and contingencies and tried to be prepared tourists. With two kids in tow we wanted to be responsible and ready, come-what-may. And we were.

Except for one small problem: they lost our luggage. We had to go off into the wilds of the African bush with none of the “stuff” we had prepared. One quick stop to get underwear and toothbrushes and off we went on a five-day safari.

Guess what? We survived just fine. Not only that, but when we finally arrived back home we had a suitcase full of clean clothes. It’s amazing what you can do without. It’s amazing how little we really need to go through life. You can fly half-way around the world and if you are open to the hospitality and generosity of others, you really don’t need all that “stuff.” You really don’t need life’s “stuffing.””

For most of us it is not “doing without” things that frightens us. It is doing without power. It is doing without knowledge. It is doing without control. That is what is scary about New Years.

Here is my suspicion: this is why resolutions are permanent fixtures on the New Year’s scene. You know, those resolutions to better ourselves–eat less, run more, drink little, smoke nothing. As the “Year That Was” turns into the “Year That Is Not,” we make New Year’s Resolutions, less to change our behaviors or improve ourselves in some way, and more to convince ourselves that we already have power and control over a year that spreads out before us like a 365-day-long question mark.

By making resolutions we face the fear and panic of the future by pretending the New Year will bring us exactly what we tell it to.

The truth is…none of us know what awaits us in 2019. We can make plans. We can arrange itineraries. We can pack luggage. But no one can predict the future. No one can say for certain what 2019 will bring.

The truth is . . . .

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