Learning to Trust the Journey

Da Nang, Vietnam, 2016

There is often no destination, or should I say, for the most part, we have destinations that are constantly on the move.

I’m beginning to the feel the full force of journey frustration. One too many times in the past few months, I’ve run myself repeatedly into dead-ends of poor progress, which in turn leads to a furious questioning of my original intent, aptitude and overall sanity in having placed my bets on such ambitious all-or-nothing goals.

In these moments, the only things I am convinced of are why I do what I do, my convictions.. and the thousand and one ways in which I am not suited for the pursuit of those. Without even going into hard skills and goal-specific competencies, on the character front alone, I don’t make the cut. For starters, I have pitiful amounts of perseverance, discipline and focus. Of all the traits attributed to successful people — diligence, commitment, persistence — I can probably only check one off the list in good conscience, and that is being willing to put in the hours and work my ass off to get there. And even that is questionable, because for the most part I do what I do because I find it fun, which makes it look more like play than work to me.

Nobody ever warns you that the downside of having laser focus on your goals and tracking them all the time would be that you get blindsided by your progress (or lack of) in the short term. I am not a patient person by any measure, and when I don’t see impact, when I don’t see myself edging closer to my milestones, I get antsy. I start to question, I cave in to the deafening doubt, I go into straight up fight/flight. None of that is edifying, none of that is uplifting, and none of that gets me closer to my destination. At the same time, I (rationally, or on some level of logical consciousness) know that mastery cannot be achieved overnight, and that as long as I keep chipping away, keep holding on, I will be there someday.

Yet it’s always the chipping away and holding on that’s hardest, isn’t it?

Encountering a spate of setbacks lately has surfaced these issues, and I’m beginning to feel like the more viable way of ensuring that I keep putting one foot in front of the other is to focus on the journey rather than the destination. It’s incredibly frustrating to be doing the same thing day in day out, with a horizon and not a destination in sight. It’s even more frustrating to have done all you can, and leave your success in the hands of some unknown force/circumstance or worse, other equally fallible human beings. So my approach this time: to not just focus on the journey, but trust. For me, chipping away is hard, but holding on is even harder. To have done all I can and have to sit and wait for things to fall in place causes me more distress than seeing a mountain of to-dos loom nearer and nearer. Trusting in the journey is understanding that even when hacked at vehemently, trees take time to fall. Trusting in the journey is tying a knot in my rope when I’ve reached the end of my resolve. Trusting in the journey is giving in to the last bit of the equation — luck, nature’s course, x-factor, whatever people call it. It’s making the horizon my destination, I guess, and appreciating the ambition, that conviction for what it is, and not what it isn’t yet.

I’ll trust that at each point of the journey, though the destination will move, and the path will morph, but it will become clear to me as long as I keep walking. I trust in the excellent people that I have surrounded myself with, that we will continue upgrading and spurring each other on. That their success will in turn empower mine, just as mine will influence theirs, too. I’ll trust in infinite possibilities and in horizons that may look different but are ultimately just as breathtaking.

I can’t be certain that this will work, hell, I can’t be certain that I will get anywhere at all, not when all I’m experiencing now is fatigue from the constant barrage of disillusionment, but hopefully this knot is what I need to cling on for a while more, just to wait it out as everything works through its own course. I wish trusting in the journey would make things easier, but it won’t — I will still commit that faux pas, land flat on my face when I try to sprint for it, and come out on the other end looking worse for wear. A big part of embracing the journey includes naming these potential stumbling blocks in as vivid detail as I would my goals, and taking it one step further by not just experiencing them and wishing them away, but enjoying them and being as present in a moment of failure as I am in a moment of delight. To me, that evens out the journey, that’s the whole point of the journey, right, to experience, to enjoy, to live out the life you’ve always wanted, setbacks and all. To learn to trust the journey to give you that experience.

It will never be called trust if I’m already sure of the outcome. I can already almost feel the thrill of a surprise sneaking up on me. :)

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