Enjoying the Journey

My Experiment: Part 7

(You can read Part 6 here: Slowing Down)

My apartment in Costa Rica is about two miles outside of town, which takes me roughly forty minutes to walk. There’s a bus that runs past three times a day, but the schedule isn’t always convenient and it doesn’t run at night. Consequently, I end up walking quite a bit. I noticed myself getting annoyed with the trek, especially at night if I’m trying to catch a ride but the hitchhiking gods aren’t smiling. It started to become a thing, when deciding whether or not to go into town at night, I was factoring in the hassle of getting there and back. The hike had become solely a means to an end, the way to get to civilization. I was focusing only on the destination, impatiently trying to get there as fast as possible.

Then I had an experience that transformed my appreciation of the journey. I was heading home at night, after the weekly open mic. It was a fun evening, I’m getting more comfortable playing in front of people and overall it was a good vibe. So I was in good spirits as I started the jaunt back. The moon was high in the sky, one day shy of full. At first, on the way out of town, I was trying catch a ride, with no luck. However, once I reached a long stretch of road with no lights, the magic unfolded.

Walking under a bright moon, in utter darkness, is an experience like no other. Lights completely negate the effect; when I was walking in town, it was a night like any other. In total blackness, moonlight shrouds the world in a velvety, silvery glow. I could see my surroundings clearly, but everything looked ethereal and other-worldly in the subtle glimmer of moonshine. The road was a ghostly ribbon carving through the gossamer jungle. Shimmering waves sparkled fleetingly before crashing on the scabrous rocks. Scenes of Tolkien flashed through my mind, hints of elven-song danced on the breeze as I meandered through the trees. The night felt more alive than ever before.

The shadows cast by moonlight are equally enthralling, made of soft, misty lines, not the sharp demarcations of sunshade. The border between light and dark isn’t distinct, the line between is and is not blurs into a sumptuous in-between.

Since that night, it’s been much easier to embrace the trek into town as its own separate adventure. The goal is no longer to get there as quickly as possible, the goal is to relish the travel itself. What was once an obstacle to overcome before having fun is now fun itself. Of course, it’s easy to enjoy a walk here, the road is either ringed by jungle or skirting the ocean. In San Francisco, I used to drive to destinations in order to enjoy an environment like this. But even in this setting, I was turning the experience into a hurdle by focusing on the destination instead of the journey itself. Ironically, when I immerse myself in the sensations of the hike, it goes by much quicker than when I was just trying to get through it.

It’s a metaphor for life. Often, I’m too focused on getting through whatever task I’m working on in order to get to the fun stuff. Since blowing up my life and moving to Costa Rica, it’s been much easier to enjoy the present moment, but I still notice myself sometimes rushing through something in order to experience what’s next. Slowing down and fully embracing whatever is happening now leads to a much fuller appreciation of my life. My existence used to consist of moments of happiness followed by hours of boredom. Now the ratio is reversed, and it’s an overwhelming relief.

The journey continues!

You can read Part 8 here: Fitting Right In

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