I’ve heard it for years—“Life is a journey, not a destination”—and quite frankly I believed it was baloney. Surely, Ralph Waldo Emerson was more than just a little off the mark when he penned it; or maybe he wrote what I believed to be a trite little saying to soothe the troubled hearts of those poor individuals who wouldn’t be fortunate enough to finally arrive! Yes, that had to be it—to comfort us! Really, how could life not be a destination?
Don’t we have to arrive at the perfect career—the one that fulfills us and facilitates the use of our talents? Don’t we have to end up with the perfect companion who will love us forever and appreciate us for the loving souls that we are? Who in their right mind would not dispute the expression—even a fool realizes that we absolutely must earn our pile of money, marry the perfect spouse, purchase the dream house, raise the ideal family, and retire with perfect health. Case closed.
The trouble is—that case is flawed; for it’s based on false evidence and worse, expectations that can never be met. Expectations that are contrary to an underlying truth of life never serve us well. To live in this manner places life and us in opposing corners of a boxing ring—one in which we’re ultimately going to square off.
To believe that we must arrive at a destination that we have subconsciously accepted as a paradigm of success is actually a formula for great unhappiness.
It forces us to work very hard, indeed, toward a goal that is ultimately an illusion. If we don’t achieve what we desire, we may erroneously conclude that life is pummelling us, when the opposite is actually the truth: that we are beating ourselves…to arrive at a destination which doesn’t exist!
Please set aside your disbelief and consider that the expression which serves as the introduction to this article just might hold a grain of truth. Now, think of anything in nature that is totally still, unmoving, as though anchored in its eternal destination. Have you thought of one? A mountain, you say—perhaps Mount Everest? Surely it is not moving. Is it not sitting at the top of its game, having arrived as the pinnacle of success? Nope; tectonic plates are shifting, resulting in ever-so-slight changes every year. Other mountains are being worn away by the weather. Water—which is, itself, moving between the states of liquid, solid, and vapour—is slowing carving their mountain slopes. The mountains are actually journeying through life.
What about a river? Surely a river is flowing the same today as it was yesterday. Nope. There’s an old saying that you can’t step into the same river twice, but the truth is you can’t step into the same river once! The river is always in a state of flux; its rate, course, and content are always changing. Stones that were upstream only seconds earlier are moving silently downstream. Now, here’s the point where understanding the truth of the expression becomes important. When we place our body-minds in the very nature that surrounds us (instead of believing that we exist as independent observers), we realize that we have been struggling needlessly. Our body-minds are also in a river—a river called life.
The benefits that result from implementing positive changes in our approach to life are many. We become happier; life seems lighter. We realize that no place and time is more valuable than the present moment—this one, in which our heart is pumping blood through our arteries and our lungs exchanging air with a living planet. The notion of success and failure, thus, falls away. Decision-making also loses some of its heaviness; for we no longer believe that an illusory static destination labelled success or failure is dependent on every choice we make. We will achieve our goals but in a detached manner. Through greater awareness, we are enabled to climb out of the boxing ring of life and into the glorious wonder of the here and now.