Life has always been about the journey. It always will be.
Life is a journey, not a destination.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
Think about something for me.
When you drove to work today, did you switch into an “autopilot” mode? Did you take your standard route? You know, the one with the intersection that is always at a red light when you drive up to it? Or your standard metro stop/ bus stop that you wait in line for? Have you ever thought about switching the route that you travel? Or is it because of our expectations and familiarity of knowing how to reach our destination that we never think about how we are getting there?
Do we ever consider the journey?
To be fair, I don’t normally consider my journey on a daily commute either. I often take it for granted. And yet, there is so much to learn from it.
A Quick Story
Today, I was planning to fly in to Costa Rica today to visit a friend I haven’t seen in years. Everything was planned out in advance and, despite long security lines, I arrived to my gate with plenty of time to spare… Upon arriving to my gate, I discovered my flight had been delayed. It was so delayed, in fact, that it was going to be impossible to make my connecting flight to reach Costa Rica.
Being the natural adventure-seeking person that I am, I set out to swiftly change flights from my scheduled airline to another airline just down the hallway. They were heading to the same destination and, after confirming my ticket refund, I hurried to the other gate… Upon arriving to this gate, however, I was informed that the flight had been completely booked. (I later found out that extra seats were actually available, and the attendant did not care to inform me. While it was inconvenient at the time, it led to my day of adventure. So — in a way — thank you, American Airlines, for your poor service!)
The unfortunate news that my saving grace of a flight had been yanked out from underneath me sent me into a brief panic. What do I do now? Do I go crawling back to the airline I just broke up with? Do I search online for the next available flight, regardless of price? Do I need to wait another day until I can make my flight?
My best option was actually to go back and beg to be placed on my original flight. Except it had already departed. Which left me in a similar sticky situation: I needed to get to my connecting airport before the next available flight. In order to do that, I had to book a four hour bus ride to get me to my next destination. Oh and the bus was scheduled to leave within an hour and I was already waiting patiently for my Uber ride to take me there.
With a half hour to spare, I boarded my southbound bus. Once on the bus, it seemed as if time slowed down. I was locked in to this journey whether I wanted to be or not. And I was along for the ride. After a calming and sleep-filled bus ride, I found myself in a new city with time to kill. So I explored. I hiked through a park, I walked along local streets and roads, even making small talk with my Uber drivers — learning about their aspirations and goals in life.
Had my flights gone without delay, I’m sure I would be in Costa Rica right now on some grand adventure (I wish)… But this small travel hiccup forced me to approach my trip with a new obsession of taking in every aspect of my journey, along the way. From talking to strangers I met along the way, to taking in new scenery I wasn’t planning to explore, I am looking at this trip as more than just a destination in another country. It will be a journey for me throughout the entire time abroad. You see, I won’t ever really reach my destination. That is the truth of this journey. It is not about the destination, rather, it is about the journey that I take.
This same journey courses through our veins and calls us to fully explore our surroundings. By normalizing our days behind a veil of routine and maintenance, we miss out on the world around us: so full of adventure and full of life. Every person we pass by is living in their own journey and we have a chance to cross paths with them and leave a lasting impression. All it takes is an awareness to the journey we are a part of.