Sorry Folks, It’s Not Just The Journey

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If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it more times than I care to acknowledge: “It’s about the journey not the destination.”

I hate to dispel those who believe it is only the journey that matters because it’s also about the destination. Or, put it another way: If you don’t know where you’re going, we’re likely to end up there, sometimes with people or places we’d rather not be.

A story might help illustrate. A ship at sea is caught in a terrible storm. The passengers are terrified and tell the captain. “Don’t worry,” he responds, “we may not know where we’re headed, but we’re getting there twice as fast.”

This is a great story for our times. We seem to be heading nowhere but twice as fast–our destinations, we seem to be saying, not as important as our journeys.

The journey is an important metaphor for life. Each of our lives are journeys from birth to death and for some beyond that. But I grow tired of those who say it’s only about the journey.

Each one of us is on a journey we should learn from, but without a destination we have no idea were we have been or are headed. We wander aimlessly in the storms of life, tossed to and fro in many directions, hanging on desperately to whatever person or fad passes by. No wonder we suffer from anxiety, boredom and lack of purpose. That’s why the philosopher Nietzsche could say that a person can bear any how if he or she has a why.

Sometimes we need to have at least a sense of where we might be heading and some ideas about how to get there, even as we know circumstances take place that make us change direction, if not the goal itself. To be a human being requires us to have a sense of purpose. Without a sense of purpose and meaning, our lives are not whole.

So, yes, it is about the journey, but a journey with a sense of purposeful direction is like a fish without water. We are, I believe, creatures who seek meaning and purpose in life–that is our journey and our destination.

The words of the poet Robert Frost ring true along the journeys of our lives, in which he used the metaphor of two roads diverging in a yellow wood, while he was trying to decide which to take. He took “the road less traveled,” and that, he writes, “made all the difference.”

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Filed under Careers and Callings, John C. Morgan, Living and dying, Philosophy, wisdom

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