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  • Last spring break, I was fortunate enough to be able to visit France with my best friend.

    Needless to say, when we arrived in Paris after two long days of travel, all I wanted to do was sit under the Eiffel Tower. It had always been a fixture in my life, something that when times got rough, I imagined in all its glory, glowing under the magical Parisian sky. The simple idea of the Eiffel Tower itself had always calmed me and given me something to look forward to.
    However, as soon as we got to the Eiffel Tower, I felt an instant rush of disappointment. THAT is what I've been imagining all these months?! All those days of working and saving for THIS?! Of course I was moody after going so long with no sleep, but at the time, I couldn't get out of my own head and simply enjoy the moment. For so long I had imagined the perfect scene of getting swept off of my feet as soon as I reached the iconic symbol of Paris. I didn't stop to enjoy myself on my journey, but rather created an unreachable, unrealistic expectation of a perfect world.

    I wasn't focused on the goal I had finally reached, I was focused on myself, my hurting feet, my itchy contacts, the overwhelming feeling of being alone in a brand new city. I was grumpy, unsatisfied, and scared. I was focused on the weird guys trying to sell me junk, I was focused on the gray, gloomy sky, I was focused on the unfamiliar smell of the new city. As soon as we got to the top of the tower, all I wanted to do was leave. I took THREE pictures at the top. As soon as we descended, I took four pictures of the tower with its twinkling nighttime lights and walked away with my group, not looking back.

    The next morning, waking up in my pink hotel room with my best friend, I felt enormous regret, but also incredible hope. I felt stupid for wasting an entire moment that could have been a wonderful memory, but I also I had a newfound feeling of not wanting to waste any time. I simply could not take anything for granted and I wanted to make the rest of my trip count. I was in the city of my dreams. I made a conscious decision to erase any expectations I had placed on the remainder of the events I had planned for my trip.
    This experience taught me something valuable. A friend of mine once told me that happiness isn't the destination, happiness is the way. I had been so stuck envisioning a fairytale that I didn't stop to enjoy the ride. When finally faced with destination, I was in the mindset of looking ahead to my next destination, not stopping to take pleasure in where I was at that exact moment. If you are always looking forward to the future, you will never be happy. You live in the way, not in the destination.

    With that new mindset, the rest of my trip passed in a sublime blur. I made lifelong friends, I ate food I had never even heard of, I found brand new inspiration. I fell in love with Paris. With France. With realizing that there is a bigger world, more fantastic and stranger than anything I had ever come in contact with in my small town of 3,000 people. God's creation never ceases to amaze me.

    This travel story might be meaningless in terms of the stories of everyone who has ever lived, but it has points that resonate with my everyday ordinary life. I know in my heart that God is in control and has a plan for me, and now my job is just to enjoy the ride, to never take anything for granted, to live my life one day at a time. And that is exactly what I intend to do.
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