“It’s the journey, not the destination.”
I have had this statement addressed to me time and time again. Recently, a fellow walker said this when he noticed how eager I was to start hiking again after a brief rest.
I admit I can be very focused on getting to my destination when travelling overseas. It does not matter what the mode of travel might be. My haste has nothing to do with any discomfort or inconvenience whilst travelling. It has more to do with my determination to get to the location as quickly as possible, and to avoid being lost.
I reason that making haste will allow me time, should I find myself lost, to retrace my steps and find my way. Thus I find it hard to be tempted by a travel advertisement that tells me to “Go get lost” – which I suppose would entice more adventurous souls who enjoy exploring off the beaten path.
However, being overly focused on hurrying to one’s destination may mean that we miss out on enjoying the journey itself. We do not stop to smell the roses or, in my wife’s case, to take another picture. The scenery will swish quickly by in a blur like the view from the window of a fast-moving train. And more importantly, by hurrying about we may come to feel disconnected with what is around us.
On the other hand, destinations exist because they are desirable stops along a journey. Life itself has milestones too, like passing an examination, getting a job or finding a partner.
Reaching any destination or objective should give one a sense of satisfaction and achievement. Yet, I have met individuals who journey along with little urgency of reaching a destination.
These people are quickly taken by an impulse to pursue a course of study and lose interest in it almost as quickly. Then there are those who switch from one job to another in an attempt to find the perfect job fit, with a long list of what they expect from their work. Therefore, when boredom or drudgery sets in, they see it as a sign that they are not in the right job. Very often, this relentless search also extends to finding their ‘perfect’ life partners.
In fact, some are constantly wondering if there is a ‘better catch’ out there somewhere. I have met a husband in such a situation. He felt bored with his wife and decided to divorce her for another woman. A year later, he came to see me again expressing regret over his decision.
We all seem to have a notion that when we have found ‘it’ – be it a job, a life partner, a home, an area of ministry, etc. – we will be perfectly happy, and our restlessness will be quelled.
But is this always so?
While I am not suggesting that one should throw caution to the wind when making important life decisions, I do want to emphasise that although the process of looking for a right fit is important, being the right person is just as important.
Be that loving and appreciative partner instead of expecting our partner to make us happy all the time. Finding the right job is important, but so too is what one learns whilst looking for such a job. Perhaps we should strive to be that employee who gives meaning to what he does instead of finding a job that gives him meaning. And perhaps I should try to be a traveller who enjoys the journey, instead of just the destination.
Making this shift in perspective is not always easy, especially for those of us who are anxious or internally restless. I find that I have to consciously tell myself to slow down and not worry about getting lost, and that even if I do get lost, everything will still work out.
As believers in Christ, we can adopt this posture when we put our lives into our Lord’s Hands. We can find no safer guide than the One who knows our needs and where we ought to be.
Benny Bong –
has been a family and marital therapist for more than 30 years, and is a certified work-life consultant. He was the first recipient of the AWARE Hero Award in 2011 and is a member of Kampong Kapor Methodist Church.