with

Mike Bellah

The in-betweens in life, including drive-time on vacations, make up the bulk of our days. If we trivialize them, as time only to be endured until the real living begins, we will trivialize most of life.

 

 

 

Most battles are won or lost, not at the beginning or end, but in-between.

 

 

 

It's naive to think that pleasure will come at the trip's destination if it eludes us along the way.

Life's In-betweens

My fond memories of summer vacations (and I have many of them) always begin when we arrive at our destination, usually somewhere in the New Mexico Rockies. The trip itself is another story. I remember it with the same nostalgic pride I take in recalling two-a-day football workouts in August; I endured it.

I can still picture my two older brothers and me crammed into the back seat of our pink-over-charcoal 1956 De Soto Sedan. My little sister sat up front to protect her from the turf wars, which only stopped when someone drew blood or when my mother periodically asked: "You don't want your father to stop this car, do you?" He rarely did, but the threat was good for a few moments of peace.

I'm sure my children will carry similar memories because my approach to vacations was the same as my dad's (and probably his dad and his dad's dad). "Vacations begin when you get there," I thought; "therefore the faster the drive-time and the fewer the stops, the more enjoyable the vacation." Not hardly.

What I know now is that the in-betweens in life, including drive-time on vacations, make up the bulk of our days. If we trivialize them, as time only to be endured until the real living begins, we will trivialize most of life.

Think about it: Nine months of pregnancy is an in-between time, as are the days between when you bring that child home from the hospital and he or she leaves home for good. Going to college is an in-between time, as is seeking a job or developing a career. Recovering from an illness or accident is a particularly difficult in-between time, as is recovering from the loss of a spouse due to death or divorce. Similarly, life transitions such as those experienced by teens, newlyweds, and midlifers are in-between times.

Not only are life's in-betweens our most frequent experiences; they may be our most important ones. For most battles are won or lost, not at the beginning or end, but in-between. It's the parent who gives everyday nurture to her kids, the college student who makes study a daily routine, and the salesperson who consistently calls on clients that successfully arrive at their destinations: well adjusted young adults, graduation with honors, or a thriving business.

Yet more pertinent to me as a midlifer is what I missed by not celebrating the in-betweens on vacations: life satisfaction and joy. It's naive to think that pleasure will come at the trip's destination if it eludes us along the way.

It's a tremendous satisfaction to receive a college degree, but those who have not found satisfaction in all the little intermediate successes will probably not fully enjoy the final one. The same goes for raising kids. It's a pleasure to see them making it on their own, but a hollow one if we never took the time to enjoy them along the way. Enjoying life is itself a skill learned mostly in life's in-betweens. If we don't develop it then, we probably won't later on.

Life's in-betweens, chances are you are in the middle of one today. So don't put your life on hold until you arrive at where you are going. Success and joy are yours for the taking, not someday, but today.

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