"Destination"...embrace the journey
Destination…this journey that knows no end, no definitive stopping point, no moment of epiphany when all our steps lead us to one final place. It is the journey, not the destination…quotes reminding me of this philosophy have graced my heart and guided my spirit for the past several years. So long I spent looking forward, ahead, to the future, to where I wanted to eventually land. Then, a few years ago, I took a step back. I often found my days filled with misery, the struggle to get through daily tasks, the doubts that haunted my entire conception of what I had deemed to be “following my dreams”. When I stepped back, I realized that my focus was solely on the destination. There was always a goal, always an end point, always a place to which I strived to reach. And though strivings and goals are not inherently a bad thing, they had encompassed my life to a point where I found myself looking back along my path and wondering where had the actual journey gone? What happened to all those steps along the way? Did I jump from one stepping stone to the next, bypassing the warmth of prickly green grass that lay between the stones? Did I jump so high and run so fast that the beauty of the world around me had literally become blinded by my own determination? I realized one day that if I continued to live in that manner, I would surely reach my destination, but then what? What would happen once the end point was found? What would happen when I decided that my dreams had been fulfilled, that my obligations had been endured? What would happen when I awoke one day to find myself having completed all those goals and strivings? The world would suddenly become empty unless I set about finding new goals and new strivings. It was destined to a be a life of destinations, and not a life I wanted to live.
And so I made a very conscious decision, and one that I must remind myself of these days as well. I decided to stop looking ahead so much, to stop focusing on the end point, on where I eventually wanted to be. Realizing that life is short, that sometimes that eventual ending place may never be given the chance to be reached. Realizing that if I continued living a life of destinations, I was sure to miss the beauty and excitement of the journey. My life is still chaotic, still overflowing with goals and strivings. But the destinations are no longer the essence of my life. I no longer wake with anticipation of reaching a final stopping point or achieving a particular goal. I awaken to new days, days as white and untouched as a blank canvas. I awaken and realize that the canvas of my day can be painted with whatever colors I choose, the design yet to be determined. I am still walking a path to “fulfill my dreams”. I still think of the future and find myself dreaming of the days when certain obligations have been endured and certain dreams fulfilled. But I also know that life is simply and truthfully one long journey to be filled with multiple dreams, the strivings of our lives a daily adventure rather than a step-by-step guide to reach a destination.
When we stay focused on the “destination”, we miss the “journey”. We miss all those tiny moments that make life worth living. We miss feeling the sun’s rays warming our bare skin or the feel of grass tickling the tender soles of our bare feet. We miss the beauty of seeing the autumn leaves change from green to gold to red. We miss the quiet and solitude that accompanies winter, the hibernation and warming of our souls in the midst of icy nights. And we most certainly miss catching sight of the first firefly of the season and the first budding flower dancing in the breeze. In losing the journey, we lose beauty. We lose experience. We lose the essence of life.
As yet another year comes to its end, we all find ourselves looking ahead to the future. Anticipating what a new year will bring, setting goals for ourselves, personal strivings which we hope to reach in the coming days and months. In a very literal sense, we are all focused on the destinations. In the journeys that we are laying out before our very own feet, may we each be reminded that it is the steps of our journeys, the process of walking our paths…this is the true essence of a life well lived.
Happy New Year to all and may each of you find yourselves enjoying the journey!!