Destinations doesn’t matter. It’s the journey that matters.

A lifehackers guide to being the Lanterne Rouge in life.

As you set out for Ithaka
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon — don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
wild Poseidon — you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

8:00 am

Even the dust particles woke up and played in the stream of golden sunlight illuminating my face. My eyes refused to budge as my face soaked in that warm elixir, my body assuming convoluted convolutions intertwining with my blanky, pillows sprawled all over; the bed telling the tale of my adventures that night. Yes, ten years old, armed with half a dozen pillows and my blanky, I used to be invincible. Sleep was not the death of each day, rather a great odyssey and waking up, not the horror it is today. There was no alarm clock, no sweet melody that would over time become the soundtrack to the terror of crawling out of bed. Instead came a gentle pat, a gentle shake, okay, maybe a bit more harder shake and I opened my eyes. I grin to my mom, “ My Charmander was just about to evolve.” She gives me the “oh-lord-spare-me” look as I ramble forth my adventures that night and what lay ahead for Ash and Pikachu at 8:30am while my mom combs my hair, my grandma buttons my shirt and I down a bowl of cereal. I was spoilt, maybe. Nope, definitely.

Hope the voyage is a long one.
May there be many a summer morning when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbors seen for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind — 
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.

Looking back, what made my life exciting was not the thought of graduating, getting into a college, prospect of getting a job or minting money; it was Pokemon at 8:30am, it was that 10 minute break after 2 boring classes, it was curling up with a book on a rainy day, it was a cup of coffee and the best of conversations, it was staying back after school for no reason, just because. It was abandoning that three hour evening class midway and ending up talking with your friend for hours in a cold, deserted parking garage, just because. It was walking with buds to the bus station even though you never caught the bus, just because. It was sleepovers with no sleep and all night study sessions with no study.

They call it time wasted. 
I call it the fondest memories of my life.

If I have learned anything in my 19 years of futile existence, it is that destinations doesn't matter as much as people say it does…. Journeys, on the other hand, are what you should treasure.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Dreams, aspirations, ambitions, hope. They form the paradox of our lives; they drive us yet deny us. They are the wind beneath our wings propelling us towards our aims, yet they are the anchors weighing us down. They show us a bright colorful future, in turn making us blind towards the soft pastel present. The voices echo, “Your future in your hands. Work hard. Stay focused. Make sacrifices. A better tomorrow awaits.” And in them we drown and forget, we live not in the future but in the present. Not tomorrow, but today.

Right here. Right now.

We often focus too much on who we want to be in the future that we see lose sight of who we are now. The Sauron of Society, Conformity, is to blame.

“Whom do you wanna be when you grow up?”

Every person is assaulted with different versions of this incessantly, throughout his life. Most of the times by society, some times by himself. The answer changes from a candy connoisseur to a doctor to a man-with-a-fat-paycheck; a good son, a happy husband, a proud father and a loving grandfather ending just as a memory in the hearts of others. The society ingrains images of success within us, seemingly encouraging us, “Wow, you are smart. With hardwork, you could be the next Bill Gates.” “Your writing is such a pleasure to read, definitely the Shakespeare of our time.” “Now that you have a good job with a steady income, it’s time for you to settle down.” Don’t let them make you the next somebody else and deprive this world of you; become the next you, the one and only you. You are your own niche, that weird tornado of talents, stardust and candy canes that makes you, you. In the end, it is all of these, the very core of your being, that gets on a cloud of thought called memory, before making its final journey into the hearts of others.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

“Why do we live? Why does this life exist and what purpose do I serve?”

Even though the answer to this damsel of a question has never been rescued by a charming answer, her eyes gaze towards a singular direction - the journey of self discovery. We live to discover ourselves and in the process each other. A little bit, each day. You can’t get it all from books, the internet or from within the four walls of a room, but you can, from a stroll through the woods, from her seraphic laughter, from the gentle pat waking you up, even from a cup of coffee with a random stranger. 
The stranger then discovers a bit about himself, you about yourself and then about each other.

“What?”
“Random Stranger is evolving!”
“Congratulations! The Random Stranger evolved into your Friend!”

Yes, life was Pokemon at 8:30 am.

Don’t expect any meaning from life, rather give meaning to it.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.