By Jimmy Warden
I remember being a freshman in high school when I saw the quote, “life is a journey, not a destination” floating around the internet somewhere. I still do not know the originator of the quote, but I sure would like to find out who it is. A lot of people hold Ralph Waldo Emerson as the originator of that quote because he was able to craft a similar intending quote, “To finish the moment, to find the journey’s end in every step of the road, to live the greatest number of good hours, is wisdom “. These ideas are about how we, as people, need to focus on the malleability of life, by adapting to adverse situations, and enjoying that process as much as we can, because it will lead to a meaningful life.
It is very easy to get caught up in life’s “destinations”, such as graduating from various levels of school, finding the perfect job or partner, living in the right area of the world, or having enough money to live the way you dreamed to live. These destinations can actually create a lot of negative turmoil within ourselves when we don’t reach the pinnacles of these destinations.
This can happen because we can feel inadequate and fall into negative thought patterns about our being when we don’t achieve what it is that we set out to achieve. We feel like we’re still not reaching our potential, if we do not have, or have not achieved, some of the aforementioned “destinations”.
The big conundrum is, even if we were able to reach all of our goals in life, we’d still be yearning for more, because it is human nature to be wanting more, to show your value to other members of society. More coming in the forms of more education, more money, more material possessions, more love. The interesting part that we don’t always think about is, our want for having more, starts with how we’ve arranged the idea of having a meaningful life.
We often believe that meaning is defined by success which can be found by reaching a certain destination. This does have some validity to it because in order to understand we are successful, we have have to arrived somewhere. It is our definition of somewhere that often trips us up. We feel that the arrival is our reaching of a potential, but in fact, if we can change the concept of somewhere, we can change that feeling of needing to reach certain destinations in our life to be successful.
If we can really understand that our journey along the way of reaching goals is really the more important concept, the somewhere, we’ll be able to embrace that journey more, and enjoy it more. No longer will we get caught up in minutia of everyday struggles that we feel are holding us back from our arrival. Instead we need to look at these struggles as growing pains and learning moments that help define our being. This will make us stronger mentally and spiritually.
These difficult times are also where we find the wisdom that Emerson spoke of and wrote so passionately about. Without struggle, we cannot evolve as humans, so there is a need to embrace the struggle, no matter where it takes us. In order to overcome these challenges, sacrifices must be made, relationships and priorities will need to be evaluated, and a willingness to make these changes must be prevalent.
This willingness is so key because everyone “starts somewhere” and needs to embrace their personal journey. With this, there will be much temptation to compare oneself to others, but in order to stay on the path, we must stay true to our journey and our journey only. We can still learn a lot from other people who have been on similar journeys, so that we can use their wisdom to help us see the obstacles that may turn up. This can also help us be helpful to others in turn because we can become teachers to them. This cycle of help is a huge factor in how community is built over time.
The more community we can create in our lives, the more connections we’ll have to others, and we as humans are social creatures, despite our varying personalities. Even those low in the personality traits introversion and openness still have a desire to be with others. They have a desire to love, to be loved, and to have a family. These connections are what create the deepest meaning of all, to the point people feel so intimately connected, that others become a part of them, and they become a part of others. This adds so much value to everyone’s life that is involved. These are the types of relationships that we all yearn for. The people that will help us through thick and thin, love us unconditionally, and celebrate our many successes that we do have, no matter how small they may be.
These successes can come in many shapes and forms, which is why we need to think about who it is that we start our lives as. This process of aging can actually be quite beautiful. We come into this world as completely dependent individuals and we leave this world, potentially being dependent again. In the middle, there are so many events that take place. Those that define us, those that we forget, and those that we’ll remember until the day we die. This is why life really is a journey. There is no destination to get to. It’s about being the best that we can be. Every damn day. Embracing the struggles. Embracing the achievements. Learning from mentors. Teaching our wisdom. And being a loving, caring human.