Kaylee: How come you don’t care where you’re going?
Book: ‘Cause how you get there is the worthier part.
This morning I viewed a post on instagram where the author, who posts a lot of landscape photos from hikes, explained that they really disliked hiking– which seemed odd for someone who does so much of it voluntarily. It had to do with being out of shape and the peskiness of mosquitos mostly, but the point was that the destination always made them forget the unpleasantness of the actual hiking.
I responded with the cliche “they say it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey” and laughed, because I’m the same– it’s the destinations that have me interested in hiking, not so much the physical work involved to get there. (Let’s be honest. I really just want a cool place to hang a hammock and sleep.)
But then I wondered, “why can’t it be about both?” Maybe in the short term hiking will be less pleasant until I reach a certain level of fitness. So can many journeys be, I suppose. A bit uncomfortable when we’re just getting going because we haven’t been on the journey before– and so we haven’t built strength and skills to feel confident. (Heck. I still feel like an imposter at my day job, hah.) Or maybe we’ve been sitting too long or had some other occurrence set us back.
Best part of comparing a hike to a journey, at least in my case, is that actual journey and its destination are part of a larger metaphorical journey where you grow and become a little better, a little more capable, each time. And the same principles that apply to that journey apply to all– spiritual, emotional, financial, social, etc.
The key word is “become”. The journey has no need to exist for its own sake. Maybe there’s a shiny destination motivating us, but really the value lies in becoming. Maybe that’s why so many prefer the journey. What happens if you stop becoming? If you had no room left to grow, had done it all and attained it all? What’s left? Not that I even think that’s possible in this life.
I guess the danger is not in becoming too great, but in sitting out the journey. To let fear and doubt — or just plain apathy and cynicism– hold you back. To keep you from peace. Happiness. Contentment. Love.
I can take this metaphor a bit further even, hah: the importance of fellow travelers on the journey. Everyone needs help– sometimes more than others. For example, sometimes we run out of gas on a journey– and we need help from a third party to make it to our destination. Like a couple years ago when I– besides being incredibly slow to begin with– ran out of juice a fraction of a mile away from the destination on a backpacking trip (not long after the above photo was taken… you can see I was reaching the end of the day’s light). Steve took about 4 pounds off my pack and lightened my burden, and that was all I needed to be able to carry on at a reasonable enough pace to make it to camp before dark. Had I been alone, I’m not sure if or when I’d have made it to the destination. So… ask for help if you need it, and look for where you can help others when you’re able and they are in need.
Gotta get moving. And keep moving. I’ve been eyeballing some journeys– physical and otherwise– I just need to set foot on the path and keep moving forward, regardless of how slow I am at first. Some seem more daunting than others… but I think each can be exciting once you get moving.
As for destination-less Shepherd Book there in the quote above… perhaps he’s a step ahead of my philosophy. His destination and journey were the same– he wasn’t seeking anything for himself, he simply sought to serve others. That is the ultimate goal, isn’t it– to learn to love unconditionally.
For now… keep going. Take a breather if you need to. But maintain your resolve to keep going.