Do you believe happiness it’s just a one-way road?
The hitchhiker stands at the side of the road, a duffel bag at his feet, backpack slung over his shoulder, an arm extended. At the end of it, his request for a lift — a thumb pointing in the direction of his destination.
He waits, hopeful. He puts on his most winning smile with the approach of every car, every van, every lorry. As each one passes without stopping, the smile slides from his face, dissolving into his slumped shoulders as he sighs and waits for the next one.
After a while, he picks up his duffel bag, resigned to the fact that he isn’t getting anywhere and it’s time to move on. He knows he’ll get tired from walking and carrying his belongings, but he’s pretty tired of standing there, too, wasting time.
His destination seems further away than ever.
“Right,” he thinks. “Let’s move on.”
Determined to reach his destination, he sets off, humming and whistling now and then, as it’s a fairly decent day, and all things considered, life is pretty good.
He hears the approach of a vehicle, turns toward it, brings out the winning smile and the accompanying thumb, but again he must keep walking. “No matter,” he thinks. “I’ll get there. Someone will stop.”
Minutes become hours. Late in the afternoon, a truck comes up from behind and slows, eyeing the hopeful hitchhiker suspiciously and making our traveler peer back equally so. Sizing each other up and making their decisions, the driver picks up speed without stopping; the hitchhiker is relieved. He trudges along, hoping for better luck next time.
Darkness falls. Clouds move in. The wind picks up. The rains come. Our hitchhiker is not deterred. His situation is unpleasant, but what’s a little water? Or even a lot?
Dejection and discouragement swirl around him, dancing and teasing like naughty little boys who rush forward to poke him, then dart away and laugh at his plight. Ignoring them with visions of reaching his destination, he continues to put one soggy foot in front of the other and keeps going.
Cars come. Cars go. The rain falls harder.
The temperature drops, and so do the hitchhiker’s spirits. Hesitation wraps itself around his weary legs, weighing them down like sandbags of doubt. Thoughts of turning back roll through his mind, each one heavier than the last. It would have been so much easier not to have set out on this journey; perhaps he should have stayed where he was comfortable.
Hm. Comfortable, yes. But not particularly happy.
Happiness is about the journey
But will he be any happier when he reaches his destination?
Of this, he cannot be sure. All he knows for certain is that he has to discover the answer, whatever it might be. Going back is not an option; there is nothing for him there—nothing but familiarity and a gnawing, aching emptiness that he can no longer fill with complacency.
A lorry stops. The driver leans across from his seat and opens the passenger door.
“Get in!” he calls to the shivering man, his warm smile a welcome sight.” You must be freezing!”
“You’re right, mate, I am! Thanks!” comes the grateful reply as the traveler climbs inside.
The two drive on together, our traveler relieved for a lift, for the kindness of a stranger, and a break from the wind and rain.
They stop for a greasy burger and chips at a diner, sharing stories and laughter.
After a slice of apple pie and some strong, hot coffee, the two go their separate ways. The lorry driver can take him no further.
With hopes renewed and his belly full, our traveler stands once again at the side of the road. His thumb and his most winning smile make the silent request for another lift toward his destination.
This article has been reprinted with permission from Angel RIBO’s LinkedIn page.