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You’re never really finished

It’s the classic question repeated in station wagons filled with impatient children. On the way to a destination, kids invariably ask (usually over and over and over), “Are we there yet?”It’s a question that’s indicative of how much of our society tends to view life. We’re in a hurry to get to some real or imagined destination, to finish the journey, all the while forgetting that it’s the little moments along the way that are what life’s all about.What those kids – and us big kids, too – forget is that a lot of times, the road trip getting there is just as good, and sometimes even better, than pulling into Disneyland, metaphorically speaking.My best friend in elementary school was a girl named Lisa. She decided she wanted to learn how to play the clarinet, so she joined the school band. Everywhere Lisa went, you’d see her dragging around her clarinet case. But one day after school, she came to my house without it.”Where’s your clarinet?” my dad asked her.”Oh, I finished the clarinet,” Lisa answered, matter-of-factly. My parents used to tell this story, howling with laughter. I didn’t understand what was so funny until I got older, and realized that no one can ever “finish” learning to play the clarinet. It’s like finishing skiing or traveling or writing. You’ve never learned it all. You’re never done. This hit home when I went through my dad’s belongings after he died in 2001. There were his shoes in his closet, his shirts hanging there too, photos in a box, his computer sitting on the desk. He hadn’t particularly thought he was “finished” when he left for surgery at the hospital months before, but his body had decided for him. His life wasn’t about the end; it was about all those little moments he had lived. Years ago, when I “finished” college, I was reminded of the journey lesson. At the time, I can remember feeling like I just couldn’t get all those books read, study for those tests, and write those papers. But I did, just like so many others, and I finally reached “the end,” otherwise known as graduation. I can remember how ultimately weird that felt. I had studied and worked for years to get that diploma. Once I finished that last final, I walked out of the building and had an odd feeling that I didn’t have anything to do – no papers to write, no books to study. And on top of it, now I was a college graduate. I still felt like I didn’t know anything, yet I was given a paper that said I did. The whole thing struck me as, frankly, bizarre. The point is, we’re never really finished. So next time you’re working way too hard to get somewhere, do yourself a favor. Remind yourself that road trips can be the best part of a journey after all. Carrie Click is the editor and general manager of The Citizen Telegram in Rifle. Some of her favorite road trips involve rafts, a river and a lot of free time. You can reach Carrie at 625-3245, ext. 101, cclick@citizentelegram.com.


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