Mark Twain said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Everything in between is a “blur”except for some “chiseled” moments.
Recently, after a long time, we had a weekend starting from the middle of the week. So, we decided to go for a one-day trip to see the Sivanasamudra waterfalls (about 100 kms from our place). The pictures and the Youtube videos of the place were lovely (according to my wife).
Let me share with you the highlights of the day with my personal ranking (1 – Worst, 5 – Average, 10 – Best)
7.45 AM – Cattle-herding my kids out of the house along with family (in-laws & wife). There’s excitement in the air. We dropped on the way to a temple and my eyes landed on a large wooden watch, I bought it, in laws paid the price. Rating: 9
8.15AM – Enjoying my carefully selected playlist (Arijit with Hamari Adhuri and Channa Mere ya). Our emotions overpowered the air freshener in the car. Rating: 8
8.45AM – Our conversation is animated, kids are lively. My younger daughter was in full form, entertaining us with her jokes and antics. I get into a mood to capture the scenic beauty. I copied these lines which appeared in a billboard “Chisel the raindrops, Paint Sunbeams, Compose your opus”. That was a “Wordsworth moment” for me. Rating: 9
9.15AM – While facing a long queue in the restaurant, I gave my insights to my wife how the restaurant authorities should do a better job of keeping the waiting time to a minimum. I had a coffee spill but the nice tourist sitting next was kind. I overheard a wife telling her husband (I publicly eavesdropped with family support!) this quote from Bill Gates, “If you’re born poor it is not your fault but if you die poor it is your fault.” We fled the scene before the husband responded. Rating: 6
12.30PM- Destination reached. I saw a lot of monkeys, a lot of cars. We captured some groupies and saw water in strips (falling downwards) from the sides. My wife and I looked at each other and the large hoardings with the “magnificent” falls. The place was called “Bluff” and it lived up to its name. It was a treat to retreat from that place as the monkeys started snatching all the plastic covers, icecreams and all food items. Infact I and my younger daughter fled from the scene to watch the monkey acts. Rating: 5
3.00PM – Delayed lunch, not a great place. However, Raagi mudde tasted by family for the first time. We asked for more sambhar. The waiter slippped it into my pants. I excused him politely as if nothing happened. Nobody enjoyed the food. Rating: 5
4.30 – We had a nice drive through NICE road as it is called. Our driver was a very good multi- tasker. He told stories of all the key spots which we covered on the way. As a family we had a wonderful time. Reached home before time. The kids were ecstatic that they could play with their friends. Rating: 9
Overall the trip was better than the destination. If you take the average of these 7 moments, then we will get 7 as the average. As per psychologists, if I looked back at the day, my overall rating would be 9. It is because in recalling an experience we ignore most of what happened and focus instead on a few moments.
In fact, for me 3 moments stood out “Buying-watch-moment”,”In-the-car moments” and “groupie moment”. The underlying psychology has untangled the reasons for this puzzling result. It is said, when we assess an experience, we tend to forget or ignore its length – a phenomenon called “Duration length”. Instead we rate the experience based on two key moments:
- The best or the worst moment known as peak
- The ending
Call it the peak-end–rule.
In this book “Power of moments” the authors (Chip Heath and Dan Heath) mention that we tend to remember flagship moments as the peaks, the pits and the transitions. In my experience the peaks (In car moments, Watch moment), Pits (Breakfast Queue, Coffee spill, Sambhar slip, Kids tantrums, Water Fall) and of course transition moments. Our driver was literally transitioning between his calls from wife (not sure), my inquisitive questions on the places and things and his responses while he was “also” driving.
So, can we try to create defining moments? In my view it is all about being focused to leave the “blur” and recalling those “chiseled” moments (Power Moments – Peaks, Pits and Transitions).
My in-laws know that when it comes to vacations, I am the one who will always plan “unplanned” trips. At least this time they got to know one day before that I am still planning. By the time I finalized, it was already time to leave.
Ultimately the journey was better than the destination. It left some memorable moments and at the end of the day we felt that it was a day to remember. Not everything needs to be planned, sometimes powerful moments can be engineered even if you are totally unplanned.