I am a big fan of fantasy. I grew up reading Tolkien and C.S. Lewis and later read series by Robert Jordan, J. K. Rowling, R.R. Martin and several others. Part of the reason I love fantasy is because it forces a reader to imagine worlds that do not exists. When done well, fantasy has us examine our humanity through a different lens. These days I have become a big fan of Brandon Sanderson. Sanderson was the author who finished Robert Jordan’s epic 14 book series, The Wheel of Time, after Jordan passed away.
I recently finished the first three books of Sanderson’s The Stormlight Archive. In it, the Knights Radiant are returning after not being seen for thousands of years. They had betrayed humanity in the past, even though they were tasked as humanity’s great protectors. In the process of becoming a Knights Radiant, a Radiant must start the journey by saying the first oaths: Life before death, strength before weakness, journey before destination. I have become a fan of the oaths and recently was able to use the third statement as a teaching point for my 8-year-old son.
This past weekend we were given an opportunity to attend the Nebraska Cornhuskers home opener for football. If you know anything about college sports, Lincoln, Nebraska on game day is something every sports fan must experience. It was to be Austin’s first big game experience. Over the years I have loved the times I have gotten to spend just one on one with my sons and this was really my first get away with Austin. We were super excited! I booked a hotel with a pool, we packed our Husker gear, we listened to the first Harry Potter book on our drive to Lincoln and we ate at Austin’s favorite places. Upon arrival at the hotel we swam and then got ready for the game.
We got down to the stadium area early and Austin was able to pick out his souvenir. A big foam hat that looked like an ear of corn. We grabbed another bite to eat and met up with my high school friend, Wayne, and his wife who had invited us to the game. I had seen Wayne a year before at a Kansas City Royals game but it had been 24 years prior to that meeting since we had seen each other in person. I was grateful for a reconnection through Facebook. It was great to catch up as we walked to the stadium. Austin and I talked as we watched the pregame festivities and we both stood and cheered as the Akron team kicked off. It was fun watching the excitement in my 8-year old’s eyes. Then the lightening started and both teams left the field never to return. The game was cancelled.
Sometime after the delay as we sat in the underbelly of Memorial Stadium hot and sweaty, we decided to leave and go back to the hotel verses chancing getting caught in a downpour. The local radar did not look promising. We said goodbye to our friends, thanked them for the opportunity and made our way miles back to the truck. Austin was disappointed he was not going to see the Huskers play and it showed all over his face.
As we drove back we talked about journey before destination. Alhough we didn’t end up getting to achieve our destination of seeing the Huskers play, the journey was ultimately more important. We talked without the distraction of screens, we listened to a good book, we swam in a great pool all by ourselves, we caught up with an old friend and we ate all of our favorite foods. The journey was great even though we ultimately didn’t reach our destination. In our goal driven society, sometimes we look at not achieving the ultimate goal as failure instead of enjoying all the steps. When it comes to relationships and their development, its ultimately about the journey.
We eventually got back to the hotel with our drive thru burgers in hand. We ate, we swam, we listened to more Harry Potter and we went to bed with the sound of the storms in the background. The next morning we had a hotel breakfast, swam once more, checked out and listened to more Harry Potter on the way home. We also stopped midway home and had second breakfast. If you read fantasy you understand the second breakfast reference from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. We never reached the ultimate destination. We will try again someday to accomplish it. Until then, like all of my relationships, I will focus more on the amazing journey!
Tim Geels – SVP of Corporate Instruction and Implementation