I think I’m still adjusting to the whirlwind that was last week. On Monday, Nick and I were in Pittsburgh. On Tuesday, we traveled back to C’Ville, and on Wednesday, we hopped on the plane before the sun even came out to head to San Francisco. And on Saturday, we were on our way back to C’Ville again.
So though I’m still recovering from the crazy busy travels of last week- and though I’m still moving a little slower- the opportunity to go to the West coast ended up being one of the best little trips of my life. Yes, it was short. Yes, it was super busy with work training. Yes, I was TIRED EVERY DAY. But everything was so new and vibrant and it had me all in awe of God and how big he is.
I haven’t mentioned that, within the USA, I haven’t been farther west than Ohio. So when we hopped on the plane, tired as ever, I couldn’t get a second of sleep because I had a window seat, and I just couldn’t stop staring at our country. What are all of those circles? And those crazy, giant mountains- I couldn’t stop looking for more than five minutes without my curiosity bringing my eyes straight back to that window.
It is hard to describe the feeling of being somewhere brand new. I feel this every time I travel- a childlike wonder awakens in me and I notice everything. The way the houses look stacked up on one another because of the steep hills. The way the fog looks different than it does on the Blue Ridge Mountains. The busy-ness of SOMA. The bark on the tallest trees I’ve ever seen. The quiet on the trails in Muir Woods. I wish my words could describe these places, but they can’t. And maybe that’s because these things are meant to be experienced.
When Nick and I travel, we usually stay just-close-enough. We usually do short getaways that are an afternoon’s drive or less. But this- this was something so much different. This gave me a bigger view of people and life and culture and God. And sure, we were still in the same country, but so much felt different.
In the few hours we had together in San Francisco, we made the most of it. Wednesday, the day we arrived, was the only day we had fully without any of the training that I was there for. So instead of the much needed sleep we maybe should have capitalized on, we instead ended up awake for 22 hours straight. That number stresses me out just looking at it. I’m crazy about my sleep.
But as we got there, we felt it urgent to explore. Urgent to fully breathe in the West Coast as much as we possibly could in our small handful of time. So we went on a tour to see the coastal redwoods and cross the Golden Gate Bridge. We saw Sausalito, too. We were touring around the city for probably five hours. And then we got back and went to the Fisherman’s Wharf- we ate food and tried to stay awake and stay warm (San Francisco, you are cold). As we got back to the hotel, Nick urged me to stay awake for just another hour so we could try the brewery across the street. “We only have three days,” he said. He repeated this to me each day as I came home from training, tired and jet-lagged, feeling that napping was necessary. He reminded me that it wasn’t.
The funny part is that Nick almost didn’t come with me. I almost saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time without my husband next to me. The money for the flight felt like too much. But then we remembered how life is too short.
I’m not the best budget-er and you really shouldn’t take advice about money from me. But I do believe that life is really meant to be lived, and in the end, if we’re holding on to our money tight as we leave this world, we’re holding on to the wrong thing.
So we dove in, we paid the price it would take to add just a little more travel to our summer, and it was so worth it.
Life is a gift- and a short one. This small allowance of time could end tomorrow or in seventy years. And in our culture of stress and too-busy and money-over-everything, we run the risk of scheduling and hustling our lives away.
But what if being too busy and holding too tight to our dollars and over-scheduling isn’t the best way to say thank you for a life we were given?
What if life is about jumping in, trying new things, and taking risks? What if life is about stepping out of comfort zones and failing a little bit to learn something ever-important? What if life is about making things and creating and doing exactly whatever it is that you feel made to do? What if it’s about time spent well with your people- the people perfectly and purposefully placed in your life to love you, and for you to love. What if it is about not worrying, not fearing so much, and trusting that a good God gave you a life to live- and He really does want you to live it fully.
How can we write thank you all over our lives? By making life full. By filling it up with friends and exploring and creating and doing whatever it is you feel made to do. By saying no to fear and yes to whatever God is laying on your heart. By getting a bigger picture of the world and God and How much he loves us all along the way.
When we travel- or at least when I travel- I can’t ignore that this feels true. I feel my view of God getting bigger. I feel my fears and worries shifting. I feel my shoulders loosening, tension floating away. I feel that time spent with people is more important than any money I could be making. And I feel so much more thankful for the people I get to spend that time with. I feel a whole lot closer to God- so close that I can almost hear Him. I can almost feel Him whispering that this is what life is about. Not the traveling on it’s own- but the type of living that happens when I travel.
The question is always how. How can I bring that feeling of true life lived home with me. How can I foster it in the everyday- the adult responsibilities, the work, the mundane. I don’t have the answers, and most days I feel like a mess, truly. But I do know that by walking each day with God, asking Him to take my fears, my stress, my worries, and my anxiety, I get closer to the full living that I long for, and I get closer to the person God created me to be.
What does traveling teach you? Where are you headed this summer?
Check out my other travel thoughts from Chic’s Beach earlier this spring!