I like to travel. I've been to forty-seven states, seven Canadian provinces or territories, and bits of Mexico. I've walked the hills of Scotland, explored England, studied in Austria, sailed fjords in Norway, been on safari in Botswana, seen wonders from Denmark to Portugal and Finland to Turkey, stayed in the shadow of the Matterhorn, been to the Arctic Circle, snorkeled in the Caribbean, walked on the Great Wall of China, and met kind and helpful people everywhere.
With nearly a million frequent flyer miles acquired while getting a tiny taste of this vast world that awaits more traveling, my favorite journey didn't come with a passport stamp; it came with the words, "I do" thirty-seven years ago.
It, too, has mileposts that mark distance, and milestones that capture experiences - birth, deaths, address changes, challenges, achievements, disappointments, and tragic or happy life-happens events. With nearly four decades on this journey, I've noticed recurring mileposts along the way. Here are a few of my most common:
Milepost #1 - the noticing. Just as it's easy to acquire traveler-blindness to yet-another museum, or dynasty tomb, or waterfall, and miss the awe in the day, marriage-blindness clouds our view, too. We think we "know" how the other person will react or what they think. But if we sleepwalk as our days together unfold, we can miss the gradual changes, the emerging of his or her gifts, and their personal growth. We can even miss our own. It's the showing up and truly noticing the person who shares your life that elevates and deepens the journey.
Milepost #2 - the love. In the words of author Ursula K. Le Guin, "Love doesn't just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, like new." I've found if love just sits there, it weakens. I've passed this milepost reminder many times, sometimes with pain and struggle, sometimes with joy and exuberance, but always with a committed renewal to making love a verb on this journey together.
Milepost #3 - the choice. We can find discomforts, dislikes, and problems whenever we travel. They're part of any traveling experience, and any marriage-journey. But here's the thing. We choose where we put our focus. We can see what's right or what's wrong; what's good or what's lacking; what's endearing or what's frustrating. Every day, we choose how we see our partner, ourselves, and the life we share. I choose to see and apply the pillow-wisdom I have propped on a bedroom chair which reads, "Happiness is being married to your best friend." Best friends don't judge, manipulate, or make demands. They want the best for each other. They celebrate their uniqueness and share their passions.
In the scheme of things, I love both kinds of travel. The sightseeing to new places kind filled with new experiences, people, and learning, and the life-journey kind filled with a deepening relationship facilitated by self-awareness, unconditional love, authentic trust, and unwavering support.
With thousands of miles traveled and decades of marriage experienced, I understand more clearly the great wonders and joys that surround my life. So as I pass this milepost of thirty-seven years married to Dan, one thing is certain - whatever is to come for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness or in health - I say all over again a resounding "I do."
(c) 2012 Nan S. Russell. All Rights Reserved.
Nan S. Russell is the award-winning author of "Hitting Your Stride: Your Work, Your Way." Her third book, "The Titleless Leader," was published May 2012. More about Nan and her work can be found at www.nanrussell.com. Sign up to receive Nan's free monthly eColumn at: www.intheschemeofthings.com