As I am currently experiencing my first mega-bus ride from Atlanta to Orlando, I can’t help but feel that it’s been a journey. The bus ride is ten hours long, stopping in Jacksonville, Fl. So, this isn’t really a journey. But, it feels like it. With an unfamiliar subgroup of people on this bus—cheap travelers—it makes for an interesting experience. The bus is full with 81 people, but after our stop it significantly dropped but we added a dog! Accompanying this dog is a very smelly man. Well, it seems I have gotten off topic. My point is, many experiences, although small, are often significant and can feel hard to endure. At the end, I’d like to think that most experiences end up being ones you would want to repeat, even those unpleasant experiences. When you experience something unpleasant but somehow find yourself wanting to do it again, I call it the ‘runner’s experience. I’m not sure if those that are reading this enjoy running, but you either love it or hate it. If you love it, the reality is you hate it when you are on that last leg, when you feel like it’s a journey to finish. Once you are finished, after some magical period of time, you find yourself proud and excited to do it again. I will explain a little later how I think it’s possible, scientifically speaking. It definitely doesn’t make much sense though, so let’s break it down.
There are other common experiences that can be related to this, phenomena—the runner’s experience. I have heard before that having children is similar to this. Mostly because; women suppress a lot of the gory details and because of epidural, hahaha. I have not had any children and maybe you haven’t and don’t believe me. Then ask yourself how is it possible women have more than one??? It’s the runner’s experience I speak of. All they can remember is the miracle that came out of. After hearing my cousin’s story about him and his wife’s baby, it sounded like a journey. From, being at the hospital for nearly 24 hours to all of the drama about the status of the baby, and the crying, and everything. That was a journey for them even though they stayed in same place all day. Other ‘journeys’ could be more physical ones like climbing mountains, the Appalachian Trail, or other ones like college semesters, especially med school or law school. College could be considered a journey, but then 5 years later you are teaching and find yourself going back to get another degree.
Now time for the science part of this particular phenomena. If you notice there is a pattern to these particular experiences of the negative parts; that are typically suppressed, and at the end there is always a positive outcome. Like forgetting gory details of childbirth, callouses on your feet, or sleepless nights of studying. But then seeing your baby girl for the first time, just seeing your journey through, or getting that diploma becomes worth the struggle. Positive experiences always trump negative ones (as we can remember from the movie Inception). If something positive comes out of a negative, like meeting your run goal even though your chest was exploding, you often only remember the positive part. Our minds typically code experiences as good or bad, and because you made one chunk of time end positively it ends up being coded as positive. Hence why we can look at unpleasant experiences as good and want to do them again.
As my journey comes to a close, I still don’t look forward to my return journey, although it’s still cheaper than flying. Many journeys are not worth repeating, like battling cancer or being unemployed. We should be kind to each other for we do not know the journeys of those around us are experiencing. Another thing we can learn from this is what we should try to end all experiences on a positive note. Like yes, your boat sank but you finally got those swimming lessons you wanted! Or Tom Hanks got stranded on that island in the movie, Castaway, but he got a free route canal and lost a lot of weight! Hahaha, but seriously, life is too short to make everything negative.