You'd hope that after spending 365 days working and sleeping and skiing and thinking and writing and sailing and traveling and playing and reading and hiking and generally adventuring with each other and with our dog, we'd have learned something.
As part of our review of 2022, we sat down to think through things we've learned (or re-learned, or re-re-learned). We pulled out three lessons that stand out above all the rest.
Not every adventure has to be epic.
I feel like I'm telling two stories of 2022: on one hand, I complained that we didn't take a "real" vacation from February to November; on the other, now I'm saying that not every adventure has to be epic.
Both are true.
Both of our ski trips to Salt Lake City were four-day weekends. Our Ruidoso ski trips were five days and four days. We planned them all carefully to cram three and four days of skiing into a single weekend, but we didn’t need to take a week off work and spend nine days crushing the slopes every time we left San Antonio.
And an adventure we've loved, which required no travel at all, is spending the last sixteen months on the Sword Coast. That one's going to be interesting for this blog...
The point is that adventure can be a few hours, or a few days, or a few weeks. Take it where you find it—don't go months and months without a break for your brain.
Not every day of every vacation has to be epic.
Even when you're doing something truly spectactular, you don't need to wring every drop of possibility out of it. We call this the "trip of a lifetime trap."
If you treat every adventure like you'll never do it again—even if you'll never do it again!—you'll spend all your time doing and seeing and not enough enjoying.
There are many facets to this lesson: how much time should you spend taking pictures versus taking in the sights with your eyes and being present with your companions? How much should you spend for that experience, in case you never get the chance again?
The solution is simple, but not easy: treat every adventure like it's merely the first time you're doing something, not the only time (even if, like we said, it really is the only time). Slow down, even if your adventure is short. Pick one or two “most-important” things that must get accomplished, and consider everything else gravy.
We learned the first part of this lesson on our honeymoon in Paris. Jerry had never been before, so he spent the week dragging Meera to every church, cathedral, museum, and landmark he could find, including every room at the Louvre they would let us into. It was exhausting, and it resulted in blurring these astonishing treasures together into a week-long heap of history.
It's not a coincidence that our most memorable part of that trip, by far, was getting caught in a hailstorm in the Tuileries Gardens between the Louvre and the Musée de L'Orangerie, and staring at Monet's Water Lilies until the weather improved. It might have been the only time that week that we slowed down, and just sat in awe of a masterpiece, and didn't worry about what time it was or where to go next—because we couldn't.
We learned the second part this year during the Munich leg of our Thanksgiving-slash-anniversary trip. We deliberately gave ourselves no schedule and only a few things to do each day (1. Visit a new Christmas market; 2. Eat and drink delicious things). We slept in until we woke up; we ate when we were hungry; and we retreated to the hotel when we got tired. If you've seen lists like "99 Fun and Awesome Things to do in Munich, Germany"—we did the polar opposite of that.
And it was amazing. One of the best trips we've ever been on.
2023: more of that, please.
Not Every Adventure Has to be Together.
The Hedgehogs love to travel together. It was one of the first adventures that Jerry and Meera did together, and we take every chance we get to travel together. However, sometimes it just doesn't work out that well; sometimes work and personal schedules simply don't align for us to travel together.
And that's ok.
It has to be.
Sometimes Meera finds herself alone in Australia (where she studied abroad in college) or with the chance to backpack in Colorado. Sometimes Jerry ends up with a couple of extra days in Japan (stay tuned for an upcoming adventure where Jerry skis in Japan and then goes on a quest for Mordor in New Zealand, all while allegedly "working"). That's just the way it goes sometimes, and it's ok to have fun on your own too, even as a married couple.
Over the past year, we've tried to take advantage of as many opportunities as we can to travel. And sometimes, that means the Hedgehogs travel alone.