“What is one thing you wish you knew earlier in life?”
This was a question a friend of mine had asked me last weekend. At the time, I wasn’t really sure how to answer it and after I stalled a bit (not very gracefully, I might add), I told her I’d get back to her. It was an interesting question and one I wanted to put some thought into. Just one thing? Man, there are so many…
So like I told my friend I would, I gave it some thought – all weekend long.
I started as I left the restaurant and it continued well into the night on Friday. “Think, think think,” I told myself, but nothing came. It was really frustrating, but I continued trying to think of an answer. As the weekend went on, I still had nothing and even before my eyes had opened on Sunday morning, my thoughts were focused on finding an answer.
Then about mid-afternoon, it me like a freight train. Boom. There it was.
“Life is a Videogame”
When I was younger, to me, life was a simple thing – really simple. As I saw it, it was just a series of accomplishments that everyone goes through – or strives to go through. For example, when you turn 16 years old, you get a driver’s license. After that, you graduate from high school, go to college and get a degree. From there, you get a job. Eventually, you settle down, buy a house, and have a family. Easy, right? Why was everyone so confused about it? It seemed very straight forward. At least it did to me and this is really how I saw things.
As a result, this is how I lived: I plodded through life, knocking out goals, almost like a real-life video game. 200 points for this accomplishment. Power up. Warp zone. On to the next level and so on. It was great. I hit a lot of my goals and if all you want is to reach the end, it’s perfect. But the problem is (and what I later found out) life isn’t a video game and it isn’t about how many levels you get through or points you score. (Btw, is this the nerdiest metaphor for life you’ve ever heard?)
I wish I had known earlier…
What I learned as I grew older – and to answer my friend’s question about something I wish I had known earlier – is that life isn’t just about getting from Point A to Point B. It isn’t only about knocking out levels and reaching the end; it’s also about the stories, experiences and discoveries which are created in between. An old friend of mine put it best when he told me, “The goal of hiking isn’t about getting to the top. It’s about discovering the world around you, experiencing the mountain, and creating stories worth telling.”
At this point, I can see it on your face. You’re asking yourself, “That’s great, but tell me why this is on the Scout blog?” Simply put, I’m sharing my answer here because this pretty well defines what “scouting” means to me.
As you could imagine, the way I see life (vs. the way I saw it when I was younger), has given me a completely different outlook on how I wake up each morning. Now, life isn’t about only about goals (which, of course, still have their place), but also about the journey, the discoveries, and the experiences which are made while on it. To me, the journey is the most fun part and at any given point, we’re all on one. We’re all scouting.
My Personal Journey
No matter who or where we are, all of us are in the middle of a journey. Some of them might be bigger ones, like raising a family or moving to a new area, or starting a job, while for others they are simpler, like learning a new recipe or discovering and trying a new experience. If any of you have ever felt the rush of experiencing something new – even a new restaurant, you know how much fun it can be.
Personally, I’m on several journeys. Some of them include:
- Learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
- Volunteering for local non-profit organizations
- Blogging about places I love
- Learning the guitar
- Going on “every day adventures” – a term I use to have more fun
Of course, it’s likely that the things you’re involved in and the journeys you’re on are as unique are much different than mine, as they are personalized to you. But whatever they are, scouting is about getting out and doing your part to not just passively let life pass you by. It’s about making an active decision to boldly go out into the world and discover the world around you and create stories worth telling. This is scouting – and it’s the one thing I wish I had known earlier.
It’s your turn
Before I wrap this post up, I want to hear from you. What is one of the personal journeys you’re on in 2012?
Photo credit: Powderruns