I read a fantastic quote today. It’s actually on my classroom wall, and has been for years, but for some reason I had stopped reading it. So I saw it again today for the first time all over again.
The full effort IS the victory. Winning never satisfies like the effort does.
So the act of that full effort, when we are striving with all of our might and feeling so alive – that’s the whole point. That’s the climax.
In other words: stop focusing on the destination. What matters most is the journey.
That’s where life happens. In the stretching, the planning, the growing, the striving, the learning. Life resides there. Where we engage with it.
If we were to wake up to the fact that the journey itself is the destination, then many of us might feel as if we missed the train.
We forget to live the day we are given. We long for tomorrow. We strive for the next chapter. We discount this one as simply an unpleasant and ultimately unimportant leg of the journey to get to somewhere more fulfilling.
Yet today is the Present, the gift, the moment we are given to live out all that we are and have become up until now. What effort can I put into today? Is it the seemingly meaningless practice or the Superbowl effort?
Today is our playground, our battlefield, our gym, our meditative mountaintop. Whatever this journey looks like right now for you – it is yours.
And there is rhyme and reason to the universe. Yes there is also chaos, but most everyone I know can see even the faintest of threads, weaving some sort of constant theme through their life. A divine storyteller or master architect, who is adding meaning and order to our day’s story.
So if there is a presence that directs the path this way and that, even if it only seems to happen at random times, then there must be a reason for today.
We didn’t simply happen to wake up here. A million different events conspired to bring us to this very moment. And yes, a lot of those moments we chose.
In many ways, we made the bed we woke up in.
Our choices and reactions have accumulated to equal the sum total of the circumstances we find ourselves in.
But it is OUR journey.
So to embrace it is the first step.
And truth is we may have woken up in an uncomfortable bed this morning.
We might despise the pain that comes with this particular day.
But every part of our journey has value – because it is OURS. It is bringing with it unique views, new discoveries, and moments of growth in both mind and spirit.
So the first step is to awaken to the phase of the journey we are actually in. Not pretend or ignore. But look around. Take it all in.
A journey is by its very nature a series of changes, movements, endings and new beginnings. It is NOT a destination. We don’t stay on a journey. We move through it.
And truthfully, as someone who loves to travel but who also loves the comfort of her little “nest”, I can sometimes struggle with the constant shifting of the journey.
I like when things settle into a comfortable happy little routine, with constant joy, laughter, order, predictability and sunshine (this is the dream right?) Sure the occasional impersonal drama will give me something interesting to talk about over dinner – interesting podcasts featuring stories of people I don’t have to get close enough to. After all, I don’t want to invite the messy drama into my happy staycation.
So yes, sometimes I wish the train would stop.
But then I realize that some of our best stories come along with the drama. Camping in the scary thunderstorm. The tornado chasing us down the highway. The millions of spider webs we had to walk through on the hike. The baby fox who visited our campsite in the woods. The 5 mile Appalachian hike in the pouring rain. And my wandering adventurer spirit nudges me,.and shows me pictures of places I still long to experience – whether in myself or in life. And I realize the cocoon will never make for a satisfying life.
We were made to move, to grow, to pick up our tent and walk over the next horizon. We can’t stay still without withering and dying somewhere inside.
So don’t focus so much on the finish line – focus on the journey. Be fully engaged and committed, roll down the window and stick out your head, take pictures, be still and look around you. Take it all in. Because good or bad – this too shall pass into the rearview mirror. But the person you take into the next leg of the journey will remain with you the whole time. And being fully vested, curious, present and engaged will only enrich your capacity to squeeze every drop out of the ride and move into each new leg as a richer person.
Lastly, when we accept the journey and open our eyes to where we currently are, we learn to travel light. Be smart about knowing what will serve you best at whatever phase of the journey you are on. We can’t do it all at every moment and we aren’t meant to. You only need certain things for right now – like summer clothes for the beach and winter ones for camping up in the mountains. I don’t bring it all on every trip. I only bring what I need and I trust that will be enough.
When I realize that I only need to focus on what is needed right now – I feel both lighter and less stressed and also come face to face with the trust that I have in the Guide. He knows that down the road I will need more patience, longsuffering, faith, time for research, energy to do home repairs, creativity for painting, time for caring for a sick loved one or watching a grandchild. He already knows and He promises to be around for that phase and also to provide guidance and insight when the time comes.
I only need to focus on this part of my journey. Today. That’s where my Guide reminds me to put my full effort. Because He also knows if this day will be my last. I don’t want to regret a day I wasted.
So stop looking for the map, anticipating the destination and focus on the one thing you can control: being present in the journey and trusting the Guide. He will remain the one constant thing in all of our travels. He promises to never leave us, to provide for all we need, to help us reach the heights and also to guide us by still waters. So buckle up buttercup and enjoy the ride. The full effort is the victory.