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In Defense of the Journey

We all tend to become focused on the future. Not just the vast technological wonders and horrors of the future. Not just the marvels and mishaps. We become focused on our future; the future of self. While few people can imagine what, say, the internet will look like in a year, almost all of them will know what their future looks like a decade from now. They know what they need to survive another week, what their career will look like next month, and what they want (or hope) their retirement will look like a few decades away. They have supplanted in their minds’ these goals and expectations and as such begin working towards them.

These goalposts are consciously made, but subconsciously acted upon. That is their inherent danger. The goals don’t simply go away once out of the conscious mind. They begin guiding us from within the depths of our mind. We know the general goal and may think of it from time to time, but all of the details are being fleshed out by the subconscious. Thinking about the task at hand becomes the priority. Then just thinking of the day to day. This relinquished control can come stem from many things. Sometimes the path to our goal is hard. Other times it is tedious. Sometimes it is simply boring or monotonous. Regardless of the reason we concede to our goals the result is the same. We fall prey to living in the present.

Living in the present is vastly different then living in the moment. To live in the present is to cast all thought to the future aside. No thought to the path you are on or the goal being worked towards. No regard (and perhaps even disgust) for the abnormal or shake up to routine. When one lives in the present they have more in common with the esteemed cog of the mechanical arts then they do a being of thought. Striving to go about their day uneventfully and holding in contempt anything that upsets the dynamic they dwell within. Yet many of us do just that. We live in the present not in the moment. We have forgotten why we do what we do and simply hold the world in contempt for the path we take.

Then that fateful day comes when we have reached the end it then hits us: that was it. We did what we had set out to do. Now it is over. No more destination. No more thoughtless progression. It’s over. All that time spent being miserable during the journey begins flashing before our eyes. At this moment our mind begins to race. No, surely this isn’t the end! This was not the goal I intended! We struggle to articulate the emotions we feel. We can’t process the ramifications of having reached our destination. Then it hits us as cold reality sets in: we always knew this was where it ended. We became disillusioned with the present though and it clouded our perception of the future. Instead of enjoying the journey we loathed it.

Too often in life people disregard the process of how they reach a conclusion. They either become so fixated on the future that the present is a mere afterthought, or they become so fixated on the present the future is never realized as impending. I have found both such circumstances to be equally tragic. They both end the same way: Leaving a feeling of being incomplete; a feeling of remorse. By shunning all circumstances not related to the goal they missed the entire point of why a journey is needed to reach it.

After all, what is a destination without a journey? What is an beginning without an end? Can there even be a beginning without an end to something before? Most people hate the abstract concepts of infinity and arbitrary meaning, and instead opt to create a prison for their minds in the present constants around them. There is security in familiarity which might be why people loath endings and beginnings. Unfortunately this is superficial. If you refuse to let something in your life conclude you are only preventing yourself from doing better the next time.

Personally this has become one of my more highly regarded philosophies. At the end of the day the effervescent or vitriol feelings we have about achieving are more or less our own. We set the goal, and we achieved it. Neglecting the journey to focus and reach higher is nothing more then the artificial inflation of priority. People who do it enough make it a lifestyle. This phenomenon is playing out in increasing numbers across modern nations. It may be good for the economy. It may be good for your wallet. It might even be good for a part of your life. At the end though if you only live for the day’s a goal is reached you will reflect and realize that you never really lived at all. Your life will have been a stunning collection of your greatest achievements, all decorating the otherwise devoid hallway signifying your life. Don’t reject the present when striving to achieve. Instead embrace it. Savor every moment of the process you take to reach your goals. Remember that in both for goals and for life that it isn’t about getting to your destination. It’s about the journey you took to get there.