Recently, I took a trip with the Honors College to the Six Flags amusement park in New Jersey. The lines there were absolutely insane. The wait for each ride was probably an average of two hours, and we only got to ride three rides. However, it was one of my favorite days of the semester.
Now, you are probably wondering: how could a day at an AMUSEMENT PARK where you only went on three rides become one of the best days of an entire semester?
Let me explain.
As you can probably imagine, the day was spent waiting too long in lines for just a few rides, and then sprinting to a ride that we believed was going to have a short line, just to be faced with another two-hour wait. However, each waiting period was full of conversation and laughter. My friends and I told stories about our high schools, our hometowns, and our lives before we met each other. We laughed until we couldn’t breathe about the clowns that sprinted up to us in the haunted sections of the park (it was Fright Fest). We posed for a bunch of pictures for my friend, Catherine’s, 2008 Nissan camera. We were forced to stop mid-sprint for another ride because someone in the group was laughing way too hard and couldn’t move. We fooled around at gift shops and bought five superhero capes. We spent the day genuinely enjoying each other’s company.
While writing this, I thought about that overused quote that talks about how life is about the journey and not the destination. The older I get, the more that these silly quotes that my teachers and parents seemed to repeat continually to me growing up are starting to make a lot more sense. The Six Flags trip wasn’t an incredible experience because of the rides at the park. It was incredible because of the people that I rode with. We chose to enjoy waiting in line, instead of only anticipating the destination. Maybe life is not supposed to be about the final ride. Maybe that simple, overused quote holds some truth.
I am not sure if anyone relates to this, but recently, I feel like I have placed so much focus on just getting to the break or just getting to Friday. I want to start acting like my life is my Six Flags field trip, where I found more fun in the waiting period and learned to appreciate the people that I’m waiting with. I want to appreciate those thirty-minute unplanned conversations that I end up having with my neighbors after just stopping to say “hi”. I want to stop to say “hi” more. I want to be more grateful for the random dining hall meals I get with a friend. I want to cherish the lounge study sessions where I spend more time giggling with my group than scrolling through a Quizlet.
There’s a quote by Japanese author Kazuaki Tanahashi that reads, “If you learn to enjoy waiting, you don’t have to wait to enjoy.” I encourage each and every one of you to try that with me. Try to enjoy the Tuesdays of the week as much as the Fridays. Try to anticipate the semester as much as the breaks. Try to appreciate the unknown as much as the known.
So, here’s to the two-hour wait in line being more fun than the roller coaster at the end. Here’s to never waiting to enjoy.