Looking Forward to Look Back
I’m always looking ahead. What’s next, where to go, who to see. Despite the joy and peace in stillness, I find immense excitement and joy from even the thought of the next step, the next trip, even just the next moment I will spend with friends. And in many ways the emotions felt in the buildup are just as strong as those I experience once “I’m there”, or “it’s happening”. And even in the moment of reflection after the fact, its not just one moment or second I remember, but a process. A path of choices and ups and downs.
I spend a lot of time planning both for work and in my personal life. It seems to be an integral part of my nature and how I walk through life. And in my limited time exploring the things that make life whole, I’ve found that I’m happiest when I look forward, and not in a yearning sense, but in the sense of challenge and change.
At work my “off-season” is full of new ideas and planning for the summer to come. Sometimes the trips are the same, and sometimes they are brand new. But either way there is a whole new experience to summer and what can and will happen.
And then in my personal life I’ve found just as much joy in anticipation and changes I create and experience. I know that once I get to the top of the mountain or to a new stretch of coast, I will have that rush of looking back and knowing I grew with each step I took. I may even take time to think ahead to the next year, basking in the idea of riding the wave down and back up again. And I find I do similar things with my hobbies. Picking up something for the love of learning something new to look back and see how I’ve grown. I even toy with the thought of fast forwarding to my days rocking on the porch looking back through my life and feeling the joy in knowing I chased the things I wanted and loved every minute of becoming who I wanted to become.
A good friend left me a note one day when I felt unmoored with where I was. It was a Pico Iyer quote, “A person susceptible to ‘wanderlust’ is not addicted to movement as committed to transformation”. It was a note that helped me explain how my thoughts and desires were not merely those of feeling trapped. I could still have a place I call home, but I could strive to travel and grow in a way that fulfilled me.
Its often said that the truest destination is the journey itself, and as much as I believe that, I also think there is a unique mindset to those of us always looking ahead to the next adventure, the next summit. Because it is not “the moment” I strive for, but the opportunity to look back on the whole thing and see how I got there. That moment of knowing I was chasing passion and joy and connection beyond all else.
Marlin Sill, Wilderness Program Coordinator