Zen Thoughts at Big Sur

This post was written by our Media Editor, Sonali Gidwani. You can check out the original post here.

The featured image is that of Big Sur, one of the most beautiful coastal cliffs in the world. Big Sur, along with the various spectacular sights along the Californian Coast’s Pacific Highway completely changed my perception of the United States. It reminded me that this wasn’t white man’s land, but belonged exclusively to it’s indigenous people and to nature. The towering redwood trees, clear blue waves crashing against treacherous rocks and omnipresent, unrelenting sunshine offered an escape from the capitalist image that impressions of America so readily subscribe to.

Of course, I didn’t think about all of this while on my road trip. I was only fifteen at the time and could barely formulate responses to the world around me beyond anything written for my GCSE English coursework.

We drove from LA to San Francisco over a period of two days, and purposely took the longer route as it was more scenic. My family and I really bonded over the sights and sounds of our first road trip, which included my brother and father arguing over the GPS, my mother screaming at Dad to drive faster, and then to stop every 15 minutes to get out of the car and take photos. By the end of the journey we wanted to strangle each other, thinking we’d never reach San Francisco.

However, the purpose of the journey wasn’t to reach San Francisco, but to enjoy the ride itself. San Francisco was fun for about a day, but the real highlight of the trip was the drive. We met some interesting characters along the way, including a couple who lived along the highway so that they could be “one with nature”, as well as a herd of seals basking on the beach.

You’re probably expecting me to say something very inspirational now about how the journey told me to enjoy the highs and lows of life and to enjoy the ride etc. etc.

To be fair, that is kinda true. I really did enjoy the journey more than the destination, and I can say that for my life so far. For example, I think I have an idea of where I want to reach after I leave university, but looking back, I genuinely appreciate the little trips and memories I’ve made to reach this point, be it maneuvering my feet on slippery rocks and falling over to take a perfect family picture in Big Sur, to running for a train in Vienna and almost getting arrested in Budapest with my friends. The greatest parts of traveling and life are the actual journeys you take to get there.

When traveling, the anticipation, excitement, moments to appreciate the scenery and the funny conversations that seem meaningless at the time, but are actually the foundation of great memories, are actually more fun than the destinations themselves. The same can be said for my life so far. Getting to milestones are not as rewarding as going through the ups and downs of life, learning new things along the way and meeting new people, or discovering family and old friends in a new way.

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