Have you ever noticed when you look back over the past phases of your life that it’s the beginning and the ending that stand out the most? Whether it’s a job, a relationship, or a place to call home, our memories are always sharper when recalling the start and the end of something.
I believe it’s a matter of novelty. When you’re in a period of stability, there isn’t enough change to distinguish one day from the next so those times don’t stick in the memory as well. The middle blurs into a routine of sameness. For people who seek routine, years can pass with little to distinguish them. There simply isn’t enough novelty to make individual days stand out.
The novelty of something new, or the knowledge of something about to end makes us pay more attention. To reflect on what this new thing might mean or what this thing about to end has taught us. Time passes slower when your brain is fully engaged and focused on some new experience. Knowing something is about to end invokes the same feelings. If it’s been a positive experience you want to savor what time you have remaining and get the most out of it. If it hasn’t been as positive an experience, you’re working as hard as you can to ensure the next beginning after this ending goes better.
During the middle of my time here in Yellowstone, routine set in and days flowed one into the next in a predictable cycle of work, chores, cooking, writing and sleeping, even if the hiking and sightseeing broke up the weeks. The last week of work however, everything came back into sharper focus again as I thought: “this will be the last time I ride my borrowed bike home after sundown”, “this is the last time I’ll see Old Faithful erupt”, this will be my hike in Yellowstone”. Knowing something will be the last time (at least for a while) makes the event more significant and meaningful, and like at the beginning of my time here the park, days stands out in amazing detail instead of fading into the background of everyday life.
This is just another of the magnificent things about RVing, that you’re offered so many endings and beginnings to keep life fresh. That the years don’t run together and that new experiences await around every bend of the road, offering chances to learn, grow, and be.
Sometimes people recall past events as seeming like they happened ‘just yesterday’. My experience since hitting the road has been quite the opposite. When I look back at my various summer park jobs, sometimes they feel like they spanned years each. Because a traveler gets a limited amount of time in a location, we tend to pack as many experiences as we can into that time and my years since hitting the road are full and rich in memories.
Weather permitting, I’ll be pulling out of Yellowstone later today. Here’s to beginnings, endings, and new beginnings. May you all be fortunate enough to experience many in your lifetime.
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