You know I just wasn't that crazy about Mormon pioneer stories when I was a kid, mostly because I couldn't relate.

The pioneers were too noble! Too heroic! Unlike me they weren't into whining when it came to taking REALLY long road trips from Illinois (for example) to Utah.

I, on the other hand, could find LOTS of things to whine about that summer our family drove from Provo to Nauvoo — like the way my dad wouldn't stop when I said I had to go to the bathroom. (Dads! They're just all "but we already stopped five minutes ago.") Or the way my brother tormented me by putting his sick, bare feet on me, while the other brother hogged the box of Wheat Thins for himself.

ME: Dude. Who died and made you the boss of the Wheat Thins box?

I was too hot! I was too cold! I couldn't do my crossword puzzle because I dropped my pencil down the seat, besides which I was too carsick to do crossword puzzles anyway.

I. Was. Miserable.

At least Nauvoo itself looked striking in the moonlight when we (yes! finally!) rolled into town late one evening.

To the west of us the Mississippi River glinted dark and silver, while overhead the heavens split wide open with a sudden crack of thunder and a slice of lightning. Within moments of our arrival, we found ourselves snatched up in the teeth of a Midwestern rainstorm that was fierce and awesome and humbling.

Talk about drama! I'll never ever forget the way that sleepy ghost of a town looked against an illuminated midnight sky.

On the other hand, the pioneers (those in the first company, as well as in the companies to follow) may have been less impressed by their first view of the Salt Lake Valley. There wasn't much in the way of greenery. Or big, slow-moving rivers. Or any of the familiar features that may have defined their notion of place and beauty.

Who knows? Maybe some of them even sat down and cried.

PIONEERS: Really? Our youth leaders made us dress up in these stupid clothes and walk a million miles without stopping at 7-Eleven? FOR THIS?

Which brings me to today's subject: "Goals and What Happens When You Actually Reach One."

Here's what we think will happen. Suddenly, everything about our lives will be bright and shiny, as well as perfect, perfect, perfect because we've FINALLY (choose one) gotten engaged, had a baby, earned a promotion, published a book, lost some weight, run a marathon, made a killing on the stock market, paid off all the credit cards, taken a walking tour through Scotland, whatever.

And the truth is that reaching a personal goal is super rewarding.

But here's the deal.

Your life (which still isn't perfect in spite of all that excellent goal-reaching) goes on. Kind of like the Mississippi River.

Life isn't static. And while you can take pride in what you've achieved, you can't stop very long to savor it.

Because the end of one journey always, always means the beginning of another.


E-mail: acannon@desnews.com