What’s Truly Important?

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I was all ready this morning to buy an annual pass for the Crystal Cove State Park, so I could start running along the beach as I prepare for my first half-marathon.

I looked online for the cost, took out my money and had it ready to pay the ranger when I pulled up. However, instead of the $125 I saw online, as of May it was now $195. Well, what do I do as I sit there with my $125 in hand, not really wanting to pay $195. I had to make an immediate decision.

I paid the $15 for a day pass.

Then I parked my car and proceeded to run along the beautiful coastline of Crystal Cove. But instead of appreciating the sun poking through the clouds while pelicans glided overhead and children ran in and out of the water with delight, or just the fact that my body enables me to run, I focused on do I want to pay the $195 for a yearly pass?

Well, embarrassingly, I have to admit, it took one of those lovely pelicans flying overhead deciding to, well, poop on me (actually, I managed to dodge most of it but still some landed on my arm) for me to see what I was focusing on.

The point is, that’s what it took for me to get out of the story I kept running through my head – whether to get the annual pass, feeling frustration at not getting what I wanted and at how expensive it is, over and over.

I started to change my thinking and I reminded myself that people travel from all over the country to visit this beautiful part of the world and here I am worrying about the cost of an annual pass. Gosh, it would be cheap at twice the price.

How often do we go through our day and focus on things that really are not that important, while right in front of us are amazing opportunities to enjoy, be it other people, our relationships, our environment, our work, our children.

I can look back to when my daughter was 5 or 6 and she would come running to me with extreme excitement about something and instead of stopping what I was doing and embracing that moment, I would make her hold off until I was done with what I thought was more important.

Looking back, none of those things were more important.

My head was just in the wrong place. It could have been cooking dinner, folding the washing or paying the bills. But none of those things are more important than taking time to experience life with another person.

So my lesson in all of this, even back then and even this weekend, is stop over-thinking things, in five years I am not going to even remember if I paid the extra $70 or not for the parking pass, but I will remember the runs along the beach and how beautiful and lucky it is that I could do that – but I will only remember if I pay attention to it, so my brain can hold that experience with emotion and fondness.

So my quest for you is to place your emotional and physical focus on what is truly important and the rest will still sort it self out somehow. I have learned to take time to do my thinking, but not at the cost of other amazing experiences.

So for now, I still have not decided to buy the annual parking pass, but I sure did enjoy the sound of the waves crashing against the shore, while watching (and watching out for) the pelicans flying overhead.

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