Life is not a journey
Because I decided some time ago that honesty is a top value of mine, I'm compelled to admit that the title of this blog confuses me.
Isn't life supposed to be a journey, enjoy the ride, slide into your grave screaming yehaaaaa etc., etc.?
After some thorough research, stretching back some 28 years, I have decided that the answer is no. Life is not supposed to be (or even trying to be) a journey.
For one, if life is a journey then why am I so frequently lost? Yes, I am diligently building my own compass, but still. It seems odd to launch oneself onto a journey where the only guarantee is that one will get lost or at the very least suffer a severe shortage of signage, more often than not. What if the point wasn't to get somewhere, but to simply enjoy being?
But more importantly, why do I not know where I am going? Who really gets in a car or books a flight without vaguely knowing where they will end up? Even if you are flying somewhere in Iceland to 'see what happens', at least you know that (a) you are leaving New Zealand; and (b) you will be arriving in Iceland. Somewhere.
Life does not demand that we propel ourselves through the decades to get from A (which I presume is 'being a baby') to B (which I presume is 'it' - that time where you suddenly realise you have achieved life's purpose). Life simply is. I risk sounding highly philosophical here, a poor tactic on my behalf since I didn't even do a philosophy degree. But I have listened to Alan Watts on this particular point. And he agrees with me (or vice versa).
To call life a journey is to suggest that we are all meant to be going somewhere, reaching some sort of destination. Is it retirement? I'm not particularly excited about reaching retirement, myself. Is it 'pinnacle of career'? I highly doubt it, as I redefine what my career is almost every year. Is it that feeling 'made it!"? Could be - please let me know when you find it, as I haven't the faintest clue how I might identify such a revelation.
I find it fascinating that we humans tend to have all these ideas on how to build up to The Place We Are Supposed To Go. I understand the rationale behind goal setting, and never feel more comfortable than right after a big goal setting marathon. But is it helpful?
I took some time out to hike through Mount Aspiring National Park over the summer break. In the evenings, I pottered my way through a templated journal designed to help me unravel my 2017. It also invited me to think about 2018. It is the closest thing to New Years resolutions that I will get to these days. One of the exercises invited me to think about my word for 2018.
The word just fell out of me. And since I scrawled it in the fading light on that tramp, it has stuck with me. Why am I always looking forward at what's next? Why am I sure that I will be way more satisfied when I get involved in that new thing? What about the stuff I'm living right now?
Focusing on the present isn't a groundbreaking idea. In fact, it is centuries old.
But if I think about life as just being, instead of being a journey, my intention of living with satisfaction suddenly takes on a whole new dimension. I'm not peering forward to where my next pitstop might be. I'm not even trying to 'enjoy the ride', because I know that deep down I would be drawing half of the enjoyment in the knowledge that I am still whisking myself somewhere.
I'm just living. Dancing. Being.