Life Is in the Journey, Not the Destination

(Information for this essay comes from the following sources: “The Path With Heart” by Michael Lynberg, “Personhood’ by Dr. Leo F. Buscaglia and “The Lessons of St Francis” by John Michael Talbot with Steve Rabey.)

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If only…..2 paralyzing words that lay a burden on our hearts!

If only…. I were rich…..If only….. I could achieve my dreams – become an actor, a writer, an artist, etc……. If only….. I could be successful.

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We go after our dreams.

We do everything in our power to make them come true.

We visualize what our dreams and our new life will hopefully look like.

We read all the self-help books. We meditate. We do everything that we have been taught. We even pray making deals with the Almighty.

And yet, we cannot fulfill our dreams and our calling. We cannot reach our goals. We cannot get ‘there.”

It’s been said that there is no heavier burden than an unfulfilled potential.

And even if we do get “there’, it’s not the way we had dreamed. We realize that there is no “there.” There is an emptiness. It’s a fleeing moment. We ask is that all there is.

The truth of the matter is to visualize our dreams and have them come true, is a mirage for most.

Life is in the journey, not the destination. “True joy is in the trip” wrote Robert J. Hastings in his essay “The Station.” “It isn’t the burdens of today that drive men mad. It is the regrets over yesterday and the fears of tomorrow. Life must be lived as we go along.”

Hastings believes we should be doing more things that bring us joy. Sillier things. We must relish the moment.

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We work at accumulating piles of wealth, working our tails off, saving, hoarding, reaching for every dollar. But for many, never enjoying it.

There is nothing wrong in making money. It’s when it becomes an obsession and controls our lives.

There is a story about a man who was given the chance to accumulate more property.  The land that he covered from dawn to dusk would be his.

He would start out at sunrise, walking west, with the sun in his back, walking several miles. He turned north, the sun getting hotter, walking a few more miles. He, then, turned east, walking more miles, the hot sun brightly shining right in his face. His body ached with every movement.

If he could make it, cover the area by sunset, the land would be his. 

He turned south. He was getting dizzy, losing orientation.

He could finally see the finish line.  Though tired, he could taste victory. His hunger for wealth kept him going. Every ounce of energy was used.

He crossed the finish line just as the sun went down. The land was his. He had become wealthier.

As he crossed the finish line, he collapsed and died.

He got to his destination, never enjoying the fruits of his labor.

Most of us accumulate wealth and never really enjoy it. We don’t relish the moment. We don’t relish the journey. We don’t take the time to smell the roses.

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Our wealth really does not belong to us.

We must realize that we are stewards of this world. Nothing really belongs to us. It is given to us to pass down to our children and our children’s children.

When Albert Einstein got up in the morning he gave thanks. He lived in a house that he did not build; ate bread that he did not bake.

Many things have been given to us by other peoples’ toil. Medicine. Clothing. Transportation. Technology. Our freedoms. The men and women who sacrificed their lives for our freedoms in war.

I try to keep my life simple. My needs are few. Food, shelter, enough money to get by. My main concern is am I living for myself or for others?  Am I making a difference? My soul cries out for it. 

I love visiting cemeteries to pay respect and homage to people who have made our lives better.

Many self-help authors advise us to create an attitude of gratitude. Those that do tend to live healthier and are more giving.

Money does not buy us happiness. It is a tool to be used, not be abused. St. Francis of Assisi said take enough to get by. And according to her mail, the late columnist Ann Landers suggested that there are just as many rich people who are miserable as poor people who are happy.

Those that are happiest are those that are being of service to others, who live for others, not themselves.

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Some final thoughts:

In  pursuing our goals, we may reach a certain plateau, a level of achievement,  resolving one set of problems only to open the door, creating new challenging problems. It’s just the law of nature. Nothing ever remains the same.

Writer and essayist George Sanders, being quoted in an article in the Toronto Star August 4, 2013, said “success is like a mountain that keeps growing ahead of you as you hike it.”

Life is a journey not a destination. . There is no “there’

Get on with living. “Enjoy yourself. It’s later than you think.” wrote Dr. Frederic Loomis. 

Finally, if we have an obsessive need to make something out of our lives, maybe we should ask if we are comfortable in our own skins.

How can we expect others to love and accept us when we haven’t learned to love and accept ourselves?