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Abandon Hope, All Ye that Enter Here

I hate traveling, but I love to travel.

My job, my family and my interests keep me on the go almost constantly. I’m on a plane so often, I might sometimes consider myself to be part bird. I knew I was officially a veteran of the field when the security workers and airport staff started recognizing me, knowing my face and preferences. When you’ve seen the same flight attendant more often than someone you’ve gone to high school with, you know you travel more than the average bear. Yet as familiar as I get with the art of traveling, the less I like it.

Firstly, people are always meaner when they travel. There is something about being on the go, having to follow specific rules and being out of the comfort of one’s own home that brings out the worst in people. We become competitive, cagey, unforgiving and irritated. Lord help us if a flight is delayed or canceled, or a hotel charges higher than what the most recent web page promised. Let’s not even think about if something vital, like a phone charger or underpants, was left behind.

Traveling is hard. Travel is quite enjoyable. It’s only the process of getting there, the trials and tribulations, the best laid plans going wrong, the difficult people we encounter along the way, that makes it a true adventure rather than an ideal and perfect trip.

That’s how people sometimes enter into the game. Traveling is hard and people are difficult, so one steels the nerves and puts on the game face before even setting foot near an airport. One sighs in preemptive irritation, exhausted at the very idea of the journey. Traveling is sometimes more of a chore than it is an adventure.

Yet, such is life.

Indeed, life is quite similar. We’re met with the issues and difficulties of the journey, the pushiness and irritation of people around us, the trials and tribulations that smack us with the boxing gloves of reality. We romanticize milestones—graduations, retirements, ages, even financial goals—but the journey itself is so disdained, that any enjoyment one could possibly gain from it is drained away.

It’s like there is a flight terminal to life. On it hangs a sign.

Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here.

Because the journey is like hell itself. Brazen yet boring, dangerous and full of headaches. Surely it can’t be enjoyable until this, that or the other happens—until you get that job, make it though this degree, or get X amount of cash in that savings account. Only then can life be enjoyable.

How strange is that logic and how quickly we forget the joy of the journey.

I’m a huge fan of action/adventure films and books. I love the start of a good story. The main character is usually living a mundane and uneventful existence until some strange unfortunate twist of fate puts them on a crazy adventure fraught with peril and change. The character often meets new friends and make allies, making a few good enemies along the way. I’ll sit, munching on my Skittles, wide-eyed and excited, wanting nothing more than to know what will befall our hero next! Then, suddenly, there is an ending, the credits roll, and I’m left with having to accept that the adventure, for now, has ended.

I’m almost sad about it.

Who doesn’t root for the protagonist? Who won’t want them to succeed somehow? The end comes and we might even be satisfied at the conclusion but, alas, the story is over. I for one have certainly felt the aching need for a series to continue, wanting there to be a sequel to a movie or another book in a series to be written. As much as we want closure, we also need the stimulation of a good conflict.

No good story is without conflict. No journey is worth taking without something to grab the attention. What kind of superhero would Batman be if Gotham City were as uneventful as a Stepford Wife suburb?  If earth weren’t in peril, why would we need Captain America? Without an evil plot to foil, MacGyver is just a nerdy tinkering mullet-man. Without the need to save the universe the theme song to Flash Gordon would be pointless!

Let’s face it, conflict is as much a part of life as it is resolution. If there were no difficulty in attaining a goal, then the goal would not be worth attaining. There would be no satisfaction in it. Nothing was invested, therefore, nothing was ever gained. So many times we want to overcome the obstacle to find the path and we don’t realize the obstacle is the path.

The joy in the journey is in each step. We look back and remember the trials of the past and the ability to overcome. Confidence comes through that, a confidence we then carry into the next chapter of our journey.

I love to travel, but I hate traveling.

Time is slowly eroding that way of thinking for me. With every problem I’ve faced, I’ve gotten stronger and wiser from it. As humans, we adapt. We are learning creatures. There is a creative nature in the human being, an ability to learn and grow.

From the perspective of a plane when it takes off, you can see each city, lake, valley and mountain from above. Each individual spot seems so small from that place above the clouds. It’s from that perspective that I can see in my mind, every checkpoint in the proper context. It reminds me that any situation can be big, when you’re in it. Yet it oddly gets smaller when it’s in the right perspective.

Stranger than it seemed even at first, life is a journey through tribulations. The difficult times gives us a frame of reference in which we can properly appreciate that better times. Yet every moment is worth living.

Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here.

Or live the moments piece by piece.

Really it’s a matter of attitude, a question of perspective. Anyone can view each trial as a crisis to be dreaded. It requires a level of maturity, and true perspective to see the joy in the journey.

D. Sweet Loper



About D.A. Sweet Loper

Sweet Loper is the co-founder of Kontrolled Chaos, an Austin based nonprofit ministry for children, a children's ministry worker at Shoreline Church and a student at Concordia University Texas. She's also a sister to three brothers and a little sister, a dog lover, hobbiest and writer. She lives in Pflugerville with her dog and roommates. Sweet is on twitter @Sweetology with Kontrolled Chaos @Outofkontrol. Check out Kontrolled Chaos at www.facebook.com/ChaosKontrol.

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