I’ve written before about journeys – indeed, the very name of this blog refers to them – and the concept of journeying is an important one to our lives. Whether we are thinking about the whole span of our lives, or a specific segment, many people use the idea of a journey or elements of it to reflect on their life’s path.
When we talk about physical journeys in our lives, we tend to talk a lot about destinations. “We’re off to grandmas at the weekend” or “I’m taking a flight this evening to Paris”. Often it seems to me that little attention gets paid to the time and process spent in getting there – or if it is, only as an unfortunate encumbrance which has to be endured in order to arrive at the destination.
In fact it has often struck me as remarkable that the one time people talk in any detail about journeys themselves is after they are completed. The weekend at grandmas normally begins with people – by which I really mean the menfolk – discussing the routes. “We came along the A17, turned right by the Bay Horse pub, and then cut cross country.” “Oh no, John, I never come that way, I know a much better route…”. And so it goes on. I normally leave the room quite quickly!
This probably doesn’t matter much when all we are talking about is a fairly routine journey to grandma’s house, but I think it matters much more if we apply the same principle to the bigger and more fundamental journeys of our lives – like careers, relationships or even hobbies.
But sadly, that is often exactly what we do. So focussed are we on the final destination – be that the dream job, the perfect family home or the next bit of photography kit we want – that we forget to enjoy what we have right now. And although destination is a vital part of any journey (not least as it’s what set us on the road to start with), it is a very small part of the overall experience. If we don’t allow ourselves to be enriched by the whole of the journey, then we are missing out on a huge proportion of what we might enjoy or learn from.
I’ve been up in Yorkshire for a few days, where my partner and I tend to do a fair bit of cross-country walking. I normally like to have the map – I guess it is the control freak in me – but the other day I relented and handed it over. The experience was salutary. Rather than burying my head in the paper, working out where to go next and what stile to head for, I actually just relaxed, let someone else take control, and enjoyed being wherever I was right now.
I guess I was just enjoying the journey.