Sunday, April 25, 2010

The End of an Adventure: Sadness or Celebration

No triumph. No bang. No rush of adrenaline. No danger causing your heart to pound. Most journeys end this way. Little remains in the way of drama. Real life is not like the adventures in books or movies where jubilation or tragedy fills the final moments, sometimes even foreshadowing future escapades. The thrill of travel is found in anticipation and along the way, rarely at the end. On arriving home one is left feeling flat somehow. Perhaps this is good or even necessary. But it is difficult for adventure addicts to return to the familiar, especially if one is present-oriented like me. The excitement of the past has evaporated and the future plans are too far away.

Why do I feel this way? Aboard the small turboprop, Alaska 5045, on the final leg of the journey, I felt forced to do some serious self-questioning. We were descending into the beauty of Vancouver that is framed by its mountains and water. Faced with that stunning, sunlit scene, and despite the haze of my sadness at the end of our extraordinary European adventure, I began to recognize a number of potential answers, none of which are particularly flattering.

I sensed that part of the letdown felt upon returning home to the "normal" is a betrayal of my failure to savour memories. I too easily move on, failing to explore in retrospect the scenes still clear in my mind's rearview mirror. Perhaps it is partly Parkinson's disease that is to blame, the desire, and even muted panic to experience as much of life as possible before the serious limits of PD set in. There is shame in the indictment as I recognize the failure to adequately appreciate the gift of the recent days. Taking time to remember the friendships formed or rekindled in countries many time zones away. Telling others about, or just mentally replaying, the dozens of scenes and stories gives our past adventures a depth, significance and life that will be lost if the lust for future travels or quests hijacks our thoughts.

Adventure in the form of a vacation is usually an escape or retreat from reality. Returning from that somewhat surreal and carefree time away is bound to present a regretful reentry. On the other hand, I need to appreciate that my holiday was only possible because fellow team members at work contributed extra effort and clients were patient with my work being delayed to some extent. In effect, others need to be recognized for their contribution to my adventure, which cannot be done without acknowledging what an extraordinary experience I enjoyed.

Despite the emotional landing back into a world of deadlines, pressures and even the sometimes mundane, I am beginning to recognize the value of reminiscing and enjoying the memories of each slice of life. Since I cannot count on the existence or quality of tomorrow’s escapes, tantalizing and attractive though they may be, I need to value the adventures of yesterday. For life is comprised of the sum total of our yesterdays, which must be prized as treasure and shared as gifts.

1 comment:

  1. What is this picture of, where the purple flowers sway. Wish I had a bigger picture of it to paint.