Most people have heard the phrase, “Life is all about the journey”, at least once in their lives, but what does it mean? Does it mean that the journey is more important than the destination? Or is it your journey that somehow defines how you feel when you reach your destination? If you’re happy with your current destination yet not feeling fulfilled, is it possible it has nothing to do with where you are and everything to do with how you got there? Could you be in the right spot with the wrong feelings?
I think so…. I believe that feeling a lack of gratification in your current life can have little to do with the situation/destination itself. I think it is highly possible that your current set of circumstances is what you want and you may feel unfulfilled because of something you missed on your way there.
Do we mourn passed over or missed possibilities/opportunities as much as we celebrate achievements?
I think so… I think that we regret the things we didn’t try, do or say, much more and for much longer than the things we undertake, regardless of the outcome, i.e. success or failure.
For example, I imagine that very few mountain climbers would have the same satisfaction when reaching the top if they were dropped off by a helicopter. It’s the climb, each and every grueling and glorious step and misstep they take getting there, that they appreciate when they reach the peak. I would guess that shortly after those who were dropped off got a chance to enjoy the view, they would begin to regret missing out on the climb and the adventures along the way. I think they would continue wishing they had at least tried to climb long after the climbers had finished celebrating and moved on to conquer a new mountain. I would even bet that, in time-if not right away, the climbers who only made it half way would have a greater sense of fulfillment than those who took the helicopter ride and left filled with empty “what if’s?”.
If two marathon runners were in the same event, but one of them accepted a motorcycle ride for the middle 15 miles, what are the chances that they will feel the same as they cross the finish line, or even the years after? It’s not the destination, it’s how you get there. A true sense of fulfillment comes from the accomplishment of getting somewhere, knowing you are capable of achieving something, being intimately aware of what that means, and living through the lessons along the way. It has much less to do with simply being at a particular place or having certain titles/roles or things.
I think many of us end up skipping or racing past certain struggles/lessons on our journeys in order to reach a new destination more quickly, or simply to stop the pain or discomfort of a current one. We sometimes want to keep moving “ahead”, rushing past any “yucky” or boring times, when maybe that’s exactly where we need to be. Getting through, as opposed to past, those times is where I believe we develop the skills, strength and insight that we eventually need to be best prepared for what the future has in store for us, and to be able to fully appreciate and receive fulfillment from our next goal or destination.
So, what if you have already raced ahead to achieve your “goals”, feel relatively certain that your current circumstances are what you want, but still feel unfulfilled? Is it realistic to “redo the journey” and yet keep your current situation? Probably not, but…as long as we are alive, we’re still on our journey and, I believe, all of the lessons that we may have missed along the way will be presented to us again. The question then is, will you be ready or willing to recognize and accept them when they do?
I have learned that we can go back and gain awareness of lessons we may have missed without having to relive the stories. This helps us recognize them when they show up again. For example, if you were to take time to think back on your life and ask yourself; Where did I opt for the helicopter route? What was my motivation? What was I avoiding? How did that work out? When did I choose the climb? How did that feel? Was there an alternate perspective I could have moved forward with? Etc… Many times just asking yourself these sorts of questions will trigger many others. It’s the answers that come from within that can restore you and help you begin to live a more fulfilling life today while preparing you for tomorrow.
We can’t change the past, only our thoughts about it and what we get from them. So think about your journey so far, look for the lessons, find some positive that came out of each one, and then think about the ones you may have avoided and what you got out of that. What doors opened when others closed? How can you apply those lessons and/or that awareness to your life today? Perhaps just noticing the steps on your way to your goal, instead of rushing to the end, would be a great start.
At the end of the day, I don’t believe our current situation is necessarily right or wrong regardless of how we got there; the top of the mountain is still the top of the mountain and the finish line is still the finish line, but…what about how we feel while we’re there? You’re still on your journey with nothing stopping you from finding out. You don’t have to go backwards and climb any past mountains, or rerun any missed marathons. There are an abundance of mountains and marathons awaiting as you move forward in life, and you can start right where you are with your new awareness and ability to appreciate each individual step.
P.S. Why does modern society continue to spend so much time and energy making things faster and easier? Has it made people happier? Do people seem more fulfilled today than before all of these “advancements”? It seems as though we, as a generation, are in danger of missing the journey. Personally, I’d rather be happy struggling half way up a mountain than comfortably miserable at the top, but maybe that’s just me, what do you think?