Destination or Journey?

How does that saying go? It’s not the destination it’s the journey? I looked it up and found 2 distinct quotes that really say the same thing, though just enough differently that I wanted to quote them both:

“The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.” –Don Williams, Jr. (American Novelist and Poet)

“Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.” –Greg Anderson (American Author and founder of the American Wellness Project)

I like parts of both these sentiments. Doesn’t it feel like they were born out of our modern rush to “get” somewhere, even when we don’t know quite where we’re going? Wherever that “where” is: a long planned trip to far away shores; a new business venture, making a major life shift, or taking an inner journey deep into your very own soul.

Slowing down to enjoy and learn from the journey is a beautiful thing, but my feeling about both of these quotes is that they leave out the importance of where you end up, your final destination, your landing zone. I know for me I definitely get joy out of the “finishing of something” and have picked up quite a few lessons that I didn’t understand until I reached that final destination.

I am remembering back to the year in my very early 20s when I ended a relationship, sold my car and all my other not easily move-able possessions (and stored the things I couldn’t bear to part with in my mother’s attic) and moved to Greece. The journey just to get on to the plane bound for Athens was long, almost 8 months. It was painful (to put it mildly) and full of tests and lessons that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. I hated almost every moment of it – except the night that started the journey, when I took my mum out to dinner and told her my grand plan. She was not nearly so thrilled as I, but she kept it to herself, and well, that’s a whole other journey…

So move forward 8 months, and I have landed in Greece and am whipping along in a taxi bound for Athens, and am dropping my few belongings in a small small hotel in the Plaka where I will live for a few weeks before finding moving to a little apartment, which will be temporary, but homey. I feel a sense of calm, a quiet and palpable joy that puts the whole journey into a new perspective for me.

Somehow a lot of tears, stress, worry and what seemed to have been a never ending series of painful and difficult conversations with the boyfriend and with my family, as well as conversations with friends that often ended with them saying things like, “well…. as long as you think this is a good idea…” had coalesced into sureness and peace. Peace and sureness, when by all rights I should have felt more stress and worry: I didn’t speak any Greek, I had no idea where I was going to live, I didn’t know anyone and I had only about $800 to my name. But I was at peace, and I was happy. Not giddy bouncy silly happy, but happy in that way that an equal combination of joy and peace can bring. This was my destination. The destination of this physical journey was Greece, but the larger destination was about following through on a choice that made sense to me, made sense for my life, and my journey.

The journey is often where we struggle, and stretch for things that feel out of reach. It is where we can get tangled up and it is also where we can find purpose. It is often fraught, it is sometimes painful and it is almost always something to look back on and say: “Oh, that’s why (insert the lesson/story/journey) that happened in that way”. The journey is about movement – literal or figurative – and it is more often then not about change. I think that the destination is about taking note of the changes, putting together the story and celebrating all the moments that got you there. It is about tying up the ribbons and tucking in the bows, it is releasing a long held breath, it is completion, and contemplation before the next journey begins.

For every journey I have been on, whether it involved getting on a plane, or jumping into my own head and tossing things around, the destination was the place where I arrived with my bag of experiences and hopefully a new outlook. It is the place where I can come back to who I am and where I am, and say, “oh hello, don’t I know you?”

For each of you reading, do you believe the journey is all that, and the destination not so much? Or vice versa? Where do your journeys and your destinations put you on the map of your own life? Have you thought about the map that could be created from all your life experiences? Kind of a fun thought, huh?

Liz Kalloch is a regular contributor to Gypsy Girl’s Guide.

  • you are amazing and I admire you for these journeys and experiances you are having and the independence on your own and the positive outlook and bravery you have is really a neat thing. these memories you are making are what people only dream of doing. Im proud of you. Continue the journey my friend and take it all in. I ask that my Jesus keep you safe at all times.

  • Thanks for the reminder. Being young and restless, we can’t sit still most of the time and want to be everywhere. We constantly need to be reminded to enjoy the ride and let the journey unfold.

  • I am so happy I discovered your blog. I have taken the first step on journey that will take me far outside my comfort zone. This timely reminder will help me remember to enjoy the scenery so-to-speak between here and there!

  • Lots of food for thought here.

    If you really think about it. . .the ultimate and final destination in life, whether we like it or not, is actually death. So yeah, I’d have to go with loving the journey over the destination.

    At any rate, we’ll never be who we want to be without the in-between.

    Ladaisi Blog

  • Your story resonates with what I am currently experiencing. It is definitely about the journey- reaching your final destination is the reward.

  • i did something similar…at age 23 I sold my car, gave away my stuff, quit my job and went backpacking in Thailand for a month. I lived simply, went from place to place with only what was on my back, and found myself again!

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