Dreams are great, but enjoying the ‘now’ is what makes life beautiful – Post Bulletin

As we entered the final stretch of our weeklong road trip through North Dakota, Montana and South Dakota, I felt waves of sadness rising up. When vacations and other novel experiences reach their natural conclusions, I tend to resist. This has been the case as long as I can remember.

I suddenly forget everything I believe about the value of savoring the present moment. Instead, I begin grasping for ways to hold on. If only the feelings of freedom, spontaneity and adventure could last forever.

My mind wanders.

Maybe we could sell our home, buy a camper and live on the open road while Justin sells his woodwork at art festivals. Maybe I could become an interim pastor serving congregations in transition around the country. Maybe we could house sit for people around the world while I develop a travel blog. Instead of enjoying the end of vacations, I tend to put a lot of energy into imagining various scenarios that would lead to the experience continuing indefinitely.

The final day of this particular trip was spent exploring western South Dakota. In the afternoon we took our dogs, Maeve and Finn, for a hike on a trail way up in the Black Hills near Spearfish. It had rained off and on that day, and a cold front had moved through. After days spent in the dry heat and smokey haze of Montana (due to forest fires in the region), the trail looked especially lush with lots of green trees, streams and even a waterfall.

“I just want this road trip to last forever,” I said to Justin. He tends to have a more balanced approach to vacations. He enjoys heading out for an excursion, and he also likes to come home.

“Maybe life is one big road trip,” he responded.

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