Recently I’ve had the opportunity to take a little road trip through six states and two provinces with my parents. It’s truly been a blessing to be able to do so as my father is seventy-one and my mother turns sixty-six this week. I know they’re not by any means old, nor are they unhealthy, but I am very aware that the opportunities to take a road trip with your parents like I used to do in my early years is becoming less and less likely. I thought I’d take a moment to express my gratitude for being able to do this.
When I was a young boy I became so excited when my father announced we were going on a vacation to British Columbia, or south to Montana. To me, these trips were so much fun, and filled with so many memories that as a young boy I took for granted. My sister and I would usually start fighting within the first few hours of the trip and my father probably wanted to turn the car around as we were unappreciative little devils. I’m thankful he didn’t, and instead decided to carry on as he knew that trips like this were privileges that many families weren’t able to do when he was a kid. The affordability to travel back then just didn’t exist like it does today. I’m very grateful that these opportunities continue to present themselves to me. Every chance I get to travel always provides so much happiness and joy to my life, which is why I decided to write about it today.
As I soaked up the sun today in Palm Springs lying by the pool, I was reminded of some words I read by Brené Brown. She noticed in her research that happiness and joy are two different experiences. She said that happiness was attached to external situations and events which caused highs and lows as those circumstances came and went. Joy is more the filling of our hearts and spirit through gratitude. The Greek origins of the two words have very different meanings and provide a very good definition of what it means to feel happy, and what it means to feel joy. I agree with Brown’s philosophy of wanting to experience more happiness, but wanting to live from a place of gratitude and joy. I never really understood the difference until now. Perhaps I just wasn’t ready, or had not lived long enough to understand this. The ancient Greeks believed joy was a “culmination of being” and maybe I’m just a little wiser and clearer in my older age to make sense of this. Having said that, my road trip with my parents has brought me much happiness but being able to express the gratitude I have for my parents and the opportunity to take this trip with them, fills my cup with joy.
My trip over the last week has been filled with many great memories and experiences that I’m so grateful to have. I will take them with me and hold them close for as long as this life allows me. The simplest things such as my mother and I making fun of my father for being so impatient in his retirement years brings me so many smiles. Watching the two of them moving from slot machine to slot machine in Las Vegas to win some magic fortune just makes me giggle. Even though I don’t like the constant smell of cigarettes, I tolerate it just to see the glow from my mother when she gets free spins, or the smile on my fathers face when he doubles his money. The many conversations had while soaking in the hot tub at night or over coffee in the morning. The simple walks shared in the morning or the fantastic dinners at night are just a few of the memories that made this trip so special. It was an absolute delight and simply said, just wonderful.
This trip has truly been the definition of time well spent, and I’m very thankful. The purpose of this blog was really to express gratitude, but I hope that if you have the chance or are able to create this opportunity with those close to you, you take it. Make it happen, because these experiences don’t come by all the time, and I’m most certain are some of the most important moments in one’s life.