UNcommon Sense: Focus on the Journey

by Corey Holland

A young philosopher once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Those words were spoken by a character named Ferris Bueller played by actor Mathew Broderick. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is a 1986 movie about a high school student who pretends to be sick so that he and a couple of his friends can enjoy a beautiful day having fun rather than going to school. The day ends up not going quite as he had planned. Even so, Ferris and his friends still end up having a day they will never forget. It’s a lighthearted 80s comedy but there is a practical truth we can all learn from Ferris.

I have noticed over the last several years, I always seem to be busy. In some ways, this makes no sense. We were told modern technology and inventions would lead to our gaining more time. From microwaves heating food in seconds to computers streamlining processes, I certainly should be gaining more time. So where is all this saved time going?

I believe like many of you, I often fail to pay attention to what is happening in the moment. It is so easy to focus on the destinations on my schedule (clean the garage, attend a ballgame, complete a report at work, etc.) that I fail to focus on the things and people that make up the journey to the destination. My wife would describe this as my not being mindful of my surroundings. She is absolutely right. The next time you are able to go out to eat or to an event, look around and see who is in the moment and who is staring at their phone. Who is engaged in conversation with those around them and who has isolated themselves by not interacting with others. It is a subtle thing but a very important thing. Too many of us are focused on the next thing and not the current thing that is actually happening.

On March 16, 2022, this imbalance in my life became very real to me. On that day, my son and daughter-in-law gave me a great gift by making me “Pops.” My first grandchild, Anthem KC Holland, being born has really made me see things from a new perspective. There is nothing like a new baby being brought into your life. You must focus on the here and now because the baby requires your full attention. And though losing sleep and control of your schedule is a difficult adjustment, it also makes you reevaluate your priorities.

Time is a precious gift; we should make the most of every moment. We all know we should stop and smell the roses but our expectation too often is the roses be in a drive-through. How about rather than always rushing to the destination, we instead tap into our senses more. It is actually a simple process. When I feel rushed or overwhelmed with the pace of life, I just try to breathe slowly and then allow myself to see my surroundings, whether it is nature or people, and just appreciate that moment. I try to not instantly “get in my head” by forming judgements or thoughts. If I am interacting with someone, I try to make good eye contact and really listen by resisting the temptation to focus on what it is I want to say. This is what taking time to look around can look like.

The destinations we have set for our lives are important. For parents, a likely destination is focusing on their child’s graduation. There is nothing wrong with that focus. My advice is don’t let yourself get so caught up on the destination you forget to enjoy the journey getting there. The journey is where you can focus and really appreciate what is happening now. None of us, as hard as we may try, get to relive moments. The best we can do is prolong them while we are actually experiencing them. Being mindful during the journey to the destination is the key. Parents, your child’s school life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

Published in The Marlow Review Oct. 27, 2022

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