I’ve traveled across the country for softball, business and pleasure, in all but 5 states. I grew up in the middle of Michigan and spent many weekends of my childhood up North camping. We didn’t get out of Michigan much. The last job I had required me to frequently travel the country by plane and car. It opened my eyes as to how big America is. We planned family vacations around revisiting some of these destinations for years. I wanted my family to see what I had seen. After that job ended I began doing the same, mostly by car, carting my daughter around to softball tournaments.
Or is she focused on the idea of what it will be like in the future when she achieves a certain goal?
Maybe you can relate? Whether walking the sandy beaches of Florida, a river boat ride on the Mississippi, driving through the Badlands of South Dakota, standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon, driving to the top of the world in the Rocky Mountain National Park, cruising around Washington with Mt. Rainer watching over you, meandering through the red rocks of Sedona or wayfaring the beaches of Southern California, I am in awe of the beauty of nature’s creations in America.
Over those years I realized, however, that not all of my family had an appreciation for what fascinated me. While I was driving looking out the window at the scenery, the girls were sleeping, playing games or just wondering how long it would be until we reached our destination? You see, I was thoroughly enjoying the journey to our destination. They were focused solely upon the destination and what it would be like when we got there.
Now think about this concerning your daughter’s softball journey. Is she enjoying the ride, the day to day things like training, practicing or the games? Or is she only focused on her goals, whether it’s becoming a starter on varsity or college softball player? Does she like to practice, to learn new skills, to push herself to her limits and prepare for the games? Does she constantly beat herself up when she fails or makes mistakes? Or does she become more determined to succeed next time? Is she so distracted by whether any college coaches are watching that she has trouble performing? Or can she still focus on the game and have fun no matter who might be watching or how she plays?
“Stop pursuing goals with the idea that you’ll be happy when you achieve them,” Kirra Sherman wrote in an article, When You’re Busy Looking for Happiness in the Future. Her point is that living in and loving the present, the moment, is the key to happiness. “Happiness happens when you stop looking for it,” she added. She mentioned times in her life when she had achieved a goal, yet strangely felt unsatisfied. And this is the main point I’m trying to make relating this concept to your daughter’s days of softball. Is she enjoying her journey? Or is she focused on the idea of what it will be like in the future when she achieves a certain goal? If she doesn’t enjoy the ride, she probably won’t be satisfied at the end of the trip.
When I reflect on those years that we traversed the country to those softball tournaments, many of the things I recall have little to do with softball. One year in Oklahoma City, we spent the day downtown walking about the shops and pubs, and the evening at the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark with the whole team catching a minor league game. I think about sitting with the dad's near the outfield fence during the games. I think about the fun we had in downtown Boulder, Colorado. I think about the day we spent at Laguna Beach soaking up the sun and surf. I think about the long drives with my daughter where we just talked about everything. I think about the great times the parents had at the hotels playing cards and drinking beer, while the girls were off just being girls.
Over time I find myself thinking about those good times and rarely about the negative things. I can remember driving late at night to Chicago, being so tired, and everybody in the car was asleep. It seemed like the longest trip ever. I've always hated that drive, but I just don't think about it very often. Sometimes we get so caught up in the downside of the moment that we can't see the good side. These days when I get in the car to watch my daughter's games I don't fret about the drive. Instead I reminisce about all of the little moments we shared during her journey. I realized some time ago: I was every bit on my own journey as much as she was on hers.
I wasn't living vicariously through her. Her dreams and aspirations were her own. I was just the dad who supported her hoping that some day her dreams would come true. She was the girl dragging me to the fields to hit her ground balls or pop ups or to throw her batting practice. I was just happy to be able to help her. You see, she just loves playing softball. The practices, lessons and workouts were not something she had to do. They were something she wanted to do. And that again is the point: She enjoys the journey. And when she enjoys the journey, the destination is just the icing on the cake.
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