“Are We There Yet?”

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As a child I remember sitting stuffed in the back seat of my mother’s brown station wagon, driving the interminable twelve-hour stretch from our home in Denver, Colo., to the tiny farm town of Orrick, Mo., where my brothers and I, the “city slickers” would spend two weeks of our summer vacation at the farm with our relatives. It was an exciting time for us, getting out of our usual element and going to spend time playing with our cousins who we saw just one time per year. And because of the enticement and curiosity of what fun and excitement lie ahead, the most often asked question in the car was, “are we there yet?”

Looking back, I notice how this question still crosses my mind continually.

Have you ever wondered when you’re going to get there? Where, specifically, that there is, is different for everyone, but for me it has long been that place where I can rest a minute from the constant push to do more, achieve more, be more. Maybe it’s because I grew up an athlete and was always pushing toward the finish line. It was something to continually strive for, but the important thing is that you definitely knew where there was—the edge of the pool after the 100m breaststroke or the finish line of an Ironman. Even in the moments of the race on the 112-mile bike ride or in my racing chair in the marathon when my arms were burning and I so desperately wanted to give up, there was a very specific place.

But in real life, there doesn’t actually exist. Sure, you can reach your goals, but then do you simply sit down on the couch forever and proclaim that you have made it? Typically, we get right on moving to the next thing on the list and set a new and equally nebulous idea where there is, and head off in that direction.

And though many of us look at the people we consider uber successful—millionaires, famous figures, people with lives we envy, I guarantee you they have their own ideas of there for which they constantly strive. In an article I read this morning about actor Ben Affleck, writer Dave Itzkoff has this observation to share, He (Affleck) has also realized that for all of his Hollywood success, some part of him will always feel like a relentless striver who must prove, through his work, that he has a right to be there.”

Are we all then “relentless strivers” and what does that mean in our pursuits?

I would argue that the only truly definitive there is six feet under and that’s not exactly where most of us want to be. So instead we have to be okay with continual reaching, looking thirstily at the mirage in the distance and enjoying the journey, because there, in reality, is a moving target and we have to be okay with aiming and missing, and aiming and hitting and aiming and missing again. For the only truly important thing is to move forward one step at a time, appreciating the here rather than the there.

In the meantime, to calm your mind in the discomfort and uncertainty of floating in space, here are three tips to enjoy where you are and stop wondering, “when am I going to get there?”

  • Remind yourself that there is likely a boring place to be.

If you had everything you wanted in life and there was nothing left to challenge or excite you, would your existence feel nearly as rewarding?

  • Being out of your comfort zone makes you grow.

Time spent out of your comfort zone can feel awful. Especially when finances are tight, relationships are difficult, or you’re battling health issues, but often out of these difficult circumstances we grow. We also become the people we didn’t know we could be. Instead of looking at your discomfort as a curse, see yourself as a caterpillar in a cocoon and become curious as to who you are going to become.

  • Relax your grip on any one given outcome.

When we get so tied up on what there means to us, we miss interesting and exciting detours in the road. But if you set out to see the world, simply for the sake of enjoying the sights and experiencing and learning new things, you might find that what you were searching for wasn’t what you wanted after all, and if you would have taken your initial path, it might not have taken you to where you were supposed to be. So see today as a journey—open your mind, your heart and arms to new experiences and truly enjoy that you are, in fact, right here. Exactly where you are supposed to be.

Tricia Downing is recognized as a pioneer in the sport of women’s paratriathlon, which is the sport of triathlon for athletes with disabilities. She is the first female wheelchair racer to complete an Iron distance triathlon—1.2-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run. She has competed in triathlon at all distances and both nationally and internationally, in addition to competing in marathons, duathlons and the sport of rowing. She is currently a member of the National Development Shooting Team, with her sights set on the 2020 Paralympic Games.
In 2009, Tricia founded Camp Discovery (www.campdiscoveryco.com), a fitness camp for women in wheelchairs designed to promote health and healing on all levels—mind, body and spirit.
Tricia holds Masters degrees in both sport management and disability studies and is a motivational speaker. She wrote and published her memoir Cycle of Hope in 2010.
She lives in Denver, Colorado. Visit her website at: www.triciadowning.com

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