Life is a journey, not a destination.
Sometimes this reminder makes me giddy with excitement and relief. I don’t need to have it all figured out right now. There isn’t one right answer. No thing of all things. No magic key that will finally make everything click into place.
I can’t fail to find the one right answer when there isn’t one. I’m relieved from the pressure of figuring out exactly where I’m supposed to be and what I’m supposed to be doing. I’m free to try something, change course, and try again.
I’m free to be a beginner, to ask questions, to get messy, to experiment. I’m free to play with all the possibilities around me and see where they lead. I can choose a direction I want to journey, but be open to unexpected twists along the way.
When life is a journey not a destination, it’s ok if I’m not yet everything I hope to be. I’m still growing. Sometimes I might be climbing the next mountain. Other times I might hit a plateau.
One day I might be hopping from one stepping stone to the next, able to see only as far as where my next step might land. Another day I might hit a detour and take the long way around or even recover ground I’ve trod before. As long as I choose to keep moving, I’m still living.
But, sometimes, especially in the midst of traveling for birthdays and funerals and holidays, the idea of life being a journey without a destination this side of death feels exhausting.
I’m so used to trying to find that one right answer; I feel lost at the thought it isn’t there to find. I cling so tightly to the idea of a destination because I long to be able to stop trying and experience the relief and security of knowing I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.
Maybe once I’ve found my destination I can live out the rest of my days feeling fulfillment and serenity. Travel is fun and exciting, but it’s also stressful and draining. It’s exhausting to think of never reaching the end of my journey in this lifetime.
Part of me wants to find that answer—the one that doesn’t exist—and to cling to it like a life raft for the rest of my days. Part of me wants to stay numb and small until I get it all figured out and can emerge fully formed as the person I was always meant to be.
Part of me is still frantically searching for that magic key. Part of me wants someone else to decide my destination…just wake me up when I get there. I think that part of me is looking for someone to blame.
Sometimes the idea of journey sounds hard and the idea of a destination sounds like a relief.
There’s a reason kids incessantly ask, “Are we there yet?”
But the journey is not the means to an end. It’s not something to be endured until I get where I want to be. Journey doesn’t mean endless striving.
The journey is my life. It’s my journey and I get to choose how to live it. I can wait for some unknown future thing to make my life what I want it to be or I can choose to engage where I am and create the life I want.
Yes, embarking on my journey means taking responsibility for myself, getting comfortable with discomfort, and taking action even when I’m afraid.
But it also means continual growth and hope, endless opportunities to experiment and try again, the power to choose, and the flexibility to change and adapt the life I’m living so it continues to fit and satisfy me as I grow.
If I found a destination it might feel good and safe and right for a time, but we aren’t meant to be stagnant. Before long the very destination I longed for would start to feel old and monotonous and, perhaps, a bit too small and confining. Before long I’d be ready to hit the road again for bigger, brighter, bolder things.
Perhaps what I’m really longing for isn’t a destination after all. Perhaps what I seek is simply the next stepping stone on my journey. Somewhere I can take a deep breath, connect with what’s around me, and choose which direction my next step will take me.
During the holiday season and grieving for Grandma, I lost some momentum on my journey. I got out of my routine and was distracted from my vision. Part of me wanted to just sink down and stay awhile. I knew I’d be unhappy. I knew it would be a waste. But at least it would be familiar. At least it would be easy.
But another part of me couldn’t wait to find my way back to my path and hit the ground running.
This week I might not make it far or fast. But I’m dusting myself off, looking around, and taking those first shaky steps to get moving again. Life is a journey and there is so much to experience.
How about you? Where are you on your journey today? Are you scaling a mountain or sitting in a swamp? What is one small step you can take this week to move forward in your journey?