I grew up mainly in Vancouver, British Columbia Canada. I am the oldest, so the first couple of years my mother and I followed my dad’s work in the backwoods of BC. He was a miner and a driller, my mom would sometimes cook for the camp or just take care of me.
As my siblings came along we settled in Vancouver where my mom had grown up. Dad still worked out of town so we saw him for a couple of weeks every three months or so. Him being on the road was just part of our life.
When you would ask him how the trip back was, his reply was simply stated as a number of hours. As in, how long it took him. “Hey dad-how was the drive down from Prince George?” His reply-”13 hours”. If he could shave some time off the trip, it was considered to have been a better trip, or so I assumed anyways.
As the years went by and I got old enough to do my own travelling as a teenager, I too felt the compulsion to get places quickly. “Gotta get there, gotta get there” said the voice in my head. I knew there were things to see but I liked being out front and getting there.
On bike tours I enjoyed swooping down the hill as fast as possible, although I did learn that if you are towing a bike trailer, that really needs to be a slower speed or you go sideways through the intersection.
On hikes I enjoyed pushing myself to see how long I could go without a break. Sometimes I barely stopped at the summit to enjoy the view. “Gotta get there, gotta get there”. I often hiked alone and on those days I motored through viewpoints and lunchstops so that I could shave a bit of time off my previous best. “How was the hike Les?” “13 hours!” Ok, well, maybe it was five or eight or even two hours but you get my point I am sure.
I had friends who hiked quickly, but my two best friends tended to be slower hikers, so I had to learn to move at their pace if I wanted to enjoy my time with them. But in my head I heard that voice, “gotta get there, gotta get there”.
As I moved into young adulthood I took up photography. There is no way you can move quickly and do photography. You can take snapshots, but you can’t craft great photographs if you are in a hurry. Sometimes you need to get to a certain place by a certain time to get the shot you want, in those cases the “gotta get there” voice comes in handy, but for the most part you just can’t be in a hurry if you want to get the pictures you are aiming for.
When I was raising my kids, there was always something else demanding my attention; work or later my own business, or my daughter’s therapy appointments or changing laundry loads or something. Still that voice, “gotta get there, gotta get there”. Always a drive to produce, to have things right. There were so many things I was chasing that I didn’t have a perfect house, I wasn’t wonder mom, I was just always chasing those ever-elusive next things on my list.
I knew that I was missing moments, but when I “got there”, when I had enough done, when enough projects were completed, when the paperwork was finished, when the Christmas baking was done, then there would be more time to enjoy the moments.
So many things I missed. The worst part was, even then, I knew that I was missing moments. But I could not stop moving.
When I began to travel overseas and spend time in third world countries, I couldn’t help but notice, that once you left the cities, people had time to say hello. It didn’t matter if it was Mexico or Nepal or Tanzania, they had time to enjoy the view. I knew then and I know now that their lives are difficult, I hold no romantic notion that poverty allows for a generosity of spirit. But somehow there did seem to be time for at least a hello and a smile.
I have travelled to Mexico many times. Not to all-inclusives, but to small towns mainly or rural areas. I don’t speak Spanish really, just enough to stumble along if the listener is able to glean intent from my mangling of grammar and pronunciation. I looked around me and saw that even when there were dirt floors and less than solid walls most houses were very clean. Most of the food was made from scratch. It was a lot of work to live like this. Many people back home would comment that “if they worked off the ranch, or harder, or more hours or something” that the folks in rural Mexico would be able to buy more, to have more stuff. Maybe, maybe not. I think that other people who aren’t as bogged down with stuff, look at us, and think that if we weren’t always working to pay for stuff we didn’t need, we would have time to say hello to each other and even enjoy a cup of tea.
I think my whole culture is caught up with “gotta get there” thinking. The thing is though, we don’t know where “there” is.
I for one, am learning to enjoy a cup of tea. 🙂