At the end of a long day of backpacking, I can’t help but hope that the campsite is just over the next hill. This is frequently far from the truth. And I now know that this is true of most things we are striving for.
On the trail, there is a very immediate goal: the campsite or the car. If I’m shooting for a campsite, I know in the back of my mind that it isn’t a real goal because there is still hiking to do the next day. If I’m shooting for the car, I know that it means the trip is over which is an equally sad thought.
So why do I get this feeling of anticipation when I get close to these things?
It is easy to get caught up in immediate goals. When I have a recital or a final paper looming over me, I struggle to think of anything else. But these things are just stepping stones to larger goals like earning a degree or getting a job offer. And those things are just by-products of trying to be a better person.
Campsites are just way-points on a larger hike which I decide to take so that I can become a better person.
This is why it is frustrating to fixate on whatever lies just beyond the next hill. Most of the time, there are at least two hills before I get to where I’m going. And then when I get there, I usually don’t feel fulfilled by the campsite. To be honest, most campsites are pretty lame compared to the trail.
I find fulfillment in the activity itself. I love hiking because I can find myself and be a better person while doing it. The campsite is only there so I can rest and the car is only there because I have to go back to my job sometimes.
I love practicing and performing music because I can be creative. The awards, the degrees, and the other pieces of paper along the way are just by-products of that.
So who cares about whatever is just over the next hill. As long as the hiking is good, those milestones will be good too.