It’a about the journey…REALLY???

A picture from my recent trip to Atlanta - somewhere in the Appalachian mountains

A picture from my recent trip to Atlanta – somewhere in the Appalachian mountains

By Kenneth Justice

It seems so romantic traveling to so many different cities and visiting people at coffee shops” she said

~ I was sitting at Union Station in Chicago last weekend waiting to board my departure train when all of a sudden I realized I was in the middle of a conversation with a couple I just met. They asked what I was doing in Chicago and after hearing about my Drinking in the Culture Tour the woman got fairly excited,

That’s so cool! It must be so exciting to be doing this; what’s been your favorite part of the year so far?” she asked

I was prepared to give her my standard response when people ask me questions about the coffee house tour but all of a sudden it dawned on me that one of the best things about my trip so far has been the traveling portion.

Usually I hate traveling. Sitting in airports, train stations, bus terminals, or wherever tends to drive me nuts. I’m always in a rush and can’t stand the monotony of counting down the minutes until departure. However, this year’s journey has been very different than vacations I’ve taken in the past; I haven’t been in a hurry.

Perhaps it’s because the whole thrust of my year long journey is to connect with people; but for whatever reason I’ve really enjoyed hanging out at airports and train stations and I’ve met as many people during my travels as I have met at coffee shops.

Last week during my trip to Chicago and back via train; I met more than a dozen people during the journey itself. Drunk people, an atheist who prays, a Korean-American woman who was proud to call herself adopted, Jose, the hot dog dude, and a bunch of other people.

Strangers want to talk. Perhaps I never noticed in my travels during the past that people were so interested in connecting and sharing experiences because I was too busy getting from one place to the next. When you go on vacation so much of your time is spent focusing on what you’re going to be doing that perhaps we forget to simply live in the moment and experience what we are doing.

Don’t get me wrong, I love vacations, but the feel of my coffee house journey this year hasn’t really been a vacation. I’ve gone on a lot of vacations throughout my life and most of the time I remember trying to fit as many things to do in a short amount of time; amusement parks, sight-seeing, museums, rush, rush, rush. Sometimes I’m more exhausted at the end of my vacations then before I even set off.

Yet on this year’s 100 coffee house tour I haven’t felt very exhausted……at least not yet. Perhaps come July I’ll be regretting the commitment I’ve made, but at least for now it’s been interesting to meet so many different people from all walks of life.

I will be in Pittsburgh this coming Saturday at Commonplace coffee and look forward to my continued experience sipping one coffee at a time.


Categories: Culture & Society

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26 replies

  1. Thanks again for a reflection that goes much deeper than a coffee mug! Life’s journey is much the same and I often times find myself fidgety about getting something done rather than seeing who is around me. Thanks Kenneth.

  2. I just….LOVE…….or did when I was younger.

    I loved the whole sensation of setting off on an ‘adventure’, because that’s what most of my travels were 35+ years ago. I spent months working several jobs, saved as much money as I could, and then set off overseas (with no definite return date).

    I love ‘people watching’… airports, on stopovers in foreign countries (as you used to do on long plane flights back then), at train stations and so on. I love seeing different cultures, dress, countryside, mountains, coastlines, whatever. I love ancient buildings and castles and rocky beaches. I love foreign cafes and restaurants where no one speaks English and you’ve got to guess what’s on the menu.

    But I suppose if I travelled interstate & overseas on business as often as my two brothers do, I’d lose that mystery and fascination.

    So glad to hear you’re enjoying your modes of transport, Kenneth. I suppose it might be different on a long plane flight if you’re sitting next to someone completely obnoxious, but then you could pretend to fall asleep.

    I wonder how I’d feel today – 35+ years later – leaving my ‘comfort zone’. I was always lucky enough to meet fascinating people with unusual jobs back then too. I suppose I would less adventurous nowadays.

  3. Ah the struggle to reach outside of ourselves…isnt this the theme of Christianity? To take interest in the lives of others besides our own. Good stuff Kenneth! Keep sharing the love of Christ with them.

  4. ‘It is better to travel hopefully than to arrive’ – so said Robert Louis Stevenson who wrote many a book including Treasure Island, and Dr Jeckyll & Mr Hyde; and who ended up living far from his native Scotland and died in Samoa.
    The journey is the thing – and that is what you are enjoying, long may it continue.

  5. That’s what the book “Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” was all about. It is the journey, not the destination that counts. And thank you for reminding us.
    I am glad you are having such a great time.


  6. “When you go on vacation so much of your time is spent on focusing on what you’re going to be doing that perhaps we forget to simply live in the moment and experience what we are doing.”

    Exactly! Every single day. Thanks for the reminder, Kenneth.

  7. This is true even standing in the grocery store line. Most often than not, people want to talk if you are willing to start the conversation.

  8. When we take the time and calm down we enjoy the moments even better. No rush.
    Ooh how did that they say that again in Costa Rica.

    So breath enjoy and relax. even in this Western society it is possible to not let things like a plane rush you.

    Hope you had a fantastic weekend.

  9. We enjoy taking the blue highways on some of our travels. They pass through parts of the country that haven’t been altered by interstates and development. There are many unique people to meet and things to do. We have no trouble striking up a conversation wherever we go.

  10. I imagine the amount of stress is different when you travel mostly without a plan. You’re not going to do or see anything more than chilling in some coffee shops. With your only worry being when the coffee shop closes, I imagine your trip to be pretty stress free.

    Also, it provides the opportunity to read a ton of books. I guess I’d be pretty antisocial while traveling.

  11. Ah…some Pura Vida time…no wonder you’re happy! 🙂

    And it is totally about the journey.

    When I first came to Florida…originally for vacation but as the time got closer, we decided it would be vacation and having Rick come home with me…we ended up doing so much in a two week span that still…it amazes me. But never…NEVER…were we rushed. In fact, there was a lot of relax and hang out time….explore time…we were in heaven.

    When the journey is right…much can be accomplished.

  12. Love traveling and your spontaneous moments. You think you’ve planned your journey, but don’t know till you do it; I guess sometimes the greatest memories are made in the most unlikely of places, further proof that spontaneity is more rewarding than a meticulously planned life.

  13. Pittsburgh is not too far from me. But sadly our car would not make the journey. 😦 I hope you have a good time in Pittsburgh. I’m sure you will meet some fascinating people. 🙂

  14. Personally, I love to travel! Maybe I’m lucky in that way that I’ve never felt rushed to do it. I’ve known or at least believed for a long time that vacations should include some plans but leave plenty of wiggle room for extras or time to sleep or just as contingencies as quite frankly, things don’t always go the way we want…just ask Clark Griswald LOL. Just saying. 🙂 I’m glad that for once you’re really taking in the traveling part because it sounds like you’re meeting just as many interesting people during the travels and just not in the coffee houses – those darn people…they’re everywhere. 🙂 I would love to do what you’re doing. Glad I get to at least live vicariously through you and read about your adventures. Happy Sunday!

  15. Waxing a little Miley Cyrus this morning? I get you though. I HATE taking the kids to the store – except when I take the girls just to be there for them. If I’m not worrying about getting a bunch of stuff and getting out of there, if I’m not in a rush to get home to do stuff, I can actually have a good time watching the girls go nuts in the toy aisle. Especially when they have their own money and can shop and we can talk about decisions. It can be the journey when we aren’t crazy.

    Since Andy works for the airline, we get to fly free BUT it’s always on standby so we may have to be in the airport for hours, days… With the girls. We have learned how to pack and live and just be patient and well, it’s kinda relaxing now. We just let people know how we are traveling and that it could be a wait for us to get there. Surprisingly, it’s not that bad. Airports can be fun. – the wifey

  16. This seems to have been a really interesting trip…

  17. The fact that you aren’t worn out – to me – is a good sign that you are doing something that you are supposed to be doing! I’m really enjoying hearing about the adventures!

  18. Its because you been drinking all the coffee. LOL

  19. Reblogged this on the tao of jaklumen and commented:
    I think that applying the Hero’s Journey to everyday life requires an understanding that the process, or the steps along the path, are equally important as the destination. In this article, Kenneth Justice notes that the people has met along the way have been just as interesting as the people he has met at the various coffee shops he has stopped at in his “Drinking in the Culture Tour”. Indeed, many such people have been the focus in his blog posts of late (as well as meeting his readers) as he chronicles his experiences for this tour, reflecting on the many issues he has written about.

  20. Thanks for providing some inspiration and a moment for respite, Kenneth. Due to continuing health issues it’s been hard for me to keep posting to my own blog as often as I’d like.

  21. The journey, it is always the journey. Keep traveling and bring us back stories.

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