In the Way of Calm

Is there such a thing as National Park overload?  If so, we might be hitting it.

I’m typing this post from King’s Canyon National Park, an absolutely stunning park in the Sierra Nevada mountain range of California.  This evening we took a hike through a Sequoia tree grove where literally people from all over the world held mouths agape at the magnitude and awe of these grand trees.  The hike and landscape was ideal, but the wonder and excitement just wasn’t there as it was earlier in the trip.  I’m feeling guilty and ungrateful that this park is becoming “just another park.”

A further sign that we’re getting a little road weary is the continued conversation that J and I have been having about cutting the trip short.  For whatever reason, the kids have been a little tougher lately, sleep has been lacking and/or mom and dad just aren’t handling things as well.  We’re tired, grumpier and as a result, the exit strategy is brought up just a little more than it should be.  But on the other hand, we are visiting incredible spots, enjoying perfect weather and life SHOULD be good to perfect, right!?  I think we both know that ejecting now would be a regret later.

I’m a firm believer in purpose.  That is, without purpose, life is a struggle.  Do we still have a purpose for this trip?

Our mission for this trip was to take advantage of time we didn’t expect to have and have a little adventure before the kid’s school calendars made long-term travel prohibitive.  Unequivocally, we’ve achieved this mission.  Now what?  Visit more parks, try to find more bears (I hope not), create more adventure?  I find the situation we are in, strangely similar to when we were climbing the corporate ladder or working to rapidly expand our business.  During those pursuits, we would reach a goal and work towards the next one and then the next one, and on and on.  Never did I think that taking a road trip with my family would bring me to the same never-ending achievement loop.

Overall, I am finding this period challenging to live in the moment and be present, issues I’ve been battling my entire adult life.  Honestly, I’m finding it harder than at many previous points in the past 10 years.  Just be, just be, just be – it’s a popular Buddhist refrain that used to help guide my days.  But damn if this isn’t a hard thing to achieve when your kids want to “just sing”, “just whine”, “just pee.”  There’s a reason the Dali Llama has 200% less children than I do.


Waking up the next day and re-reading this post, it still feels accurate, but there is less urgency to do something.  The sun shining and birds chirping bring a calm that didn’t seem to be there yesterday.  Life feels pretty great as I sit at our dinette, look out at big trees and drink tea while the kids sleep.

Now the kids rustle and the calm seems harder to find.  But it’s not the kids.  It’s me.  The calm is always there, I just need to get out of the way.

2 thoughts on “In the Way of Calm

  1. Amber

    What a great post. Raw and true. I remember when Mike and I were kayaking along the beautiful coast of NZ. Six months in and I remember saying “this is so ridiculously beautiful, but my cup can’t hold or appreciate anymore beauty”. Maybe lack of contentment even when surroundings are beyond describable are the curse of being human. As one of the truths, there will still always be suffering.


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