I recently finished the final book of Steven King’s epic Magnum Opus, “The Dark Tower”. A phenomenal epic journey of Roland the Gunslinger and his troupe of comrades and how they overcome the impossible to fight evil and reach the tower. I loved it.
Shortly before the very end of the final book, the part that you have been waiting for since the beginning of book 1, the part where Roland finally reaches the dark tower (not a spoiler because let’s be honest, you always knew he would get there), he interjects his own voice, as Steven King, and says something specifically aimed at the people who’ve been waiting for the ending. The people who have eagerly anticipated the final chapter to wait and see what happens when he finally reaches his goal and arrives at the dark tower.
For context, I also love this because Steven King is famous for shit endings. He is famous for having a finale that is a let down. His books are so good, his characters and the situations that they encounter are so deep, that it’s hard to put a sense of finality to it all. For this reason, his endings are usually criticised and fans of his are left wanting more.
Which is all the more reason why I loved this specific part of the story where he calls these critics out. Where he takes a shot at them and simply says “I don’t give a fuck what you think I write this shit for myself.”
What he says is as follows….
“You are the grim, goal-oriented ones who will not believe that the joy is in the journey rather than the destination no matter how many times it has been proven to you. You are the unfortunate ones who still get the love-making all confused with the paltry squirt that comes to end the lovemaking (the orgasm is, after all, God’s way of telling us we’ve finished, at least for the time being, and should go to sleep). You are the cruel ones who deny the Grey Havens, where tired characters go to rest. You say you want to know how it all comes out. You say you want to follow Roland into the Tower; you say that is what you paid your money for, the show you came to see.
For an ending, you only have to turn to the last page and see what is there writ upon. But endings are heartless. An ending is a closed door no man (or Manni) can open. I’ve written many, but most only for the same reason that I pull on my pants in the morning before leaving the bedroom — because it is the custom of the country.
Endings are heartless. Ending is just another word for goodbye.”
What I love about this quote is this line in particular — “the joy is in the journey rather than the destination.” If you have read seven books looking for and waiting for the ending…you’ve missed the point. Rather than enjoying the wonderful story and the characters he’s created and the heartbreaks and boredom along the way, you’ve been reading with the goal in mind, the end destination, rather than the journey you walk through and the beautiful sights you pass along the way.
It sounds simple, it sounds cliche, but it resonates because it’s where Im currently at in my journey. I’ve recently been very focused on enjoying where I currently am, enjoying the journey that has brought me here, instead of where I am going.
For context, it’s something that I’ve struggled with for a long time. When I ran my business I was always so focused on “what’s next” that I rarely took the time to appreciate what we already accomplished. It’s something my co-founder always complained about. I was never happy with where we were because it wasn’t where I wanted to be.
It’s something I still struggle with. To this day I’m still very goal oriented. I ruthlessly track my KPI’s on a daily basis and I have a counter on my dashboard telling me how close I am to the # of deals I want to close every month, conversion rates, # of calls, insights I’ve learned and more. On the highline I’m very focused on tracking every tangible improvement I can see. I have long term goals of what types of lines I want to be walking and in how many months. In my writing I’m always beating myself up about the number of articles I’ve recently released and how many I have in my backlog.
But because of this, as I’ve talked about in “appreciate when the waves are calm”, I like to actively take time to appreciate where I am. I like to appreciate the activity for the activity itself. To take joy in the process rather than the end result. To take time to appreciate the journey rather than the destination.
I’m not focused on where I’m going, I’m focused on where I currently am.
My life is fucking deliciously amazing right now. I live in Florianoplois Brazil (literal paradise). I have my dream job and I’m making more money than I ever have before. I am jumping on highlines and slacklining consistently. I have a great girl in my life. What the fuck else could I want?!
Nonetheless, that inner critic, that voice that want’s to know “where are we going and what’s next!?” always seems to chime in and attempt to take me out of the present moment, trying to quantify what all of this will turn into, what I can do in the future.
That’s when I chime back in and say “fuck you, don’t take this moment away from me.”
It took me ten years to get where I am, ten years of ruthless determination to not stop living the lifestyle I want for myself. Ten years of taking the unconventional route. Of sacrificing money and relationships and family and everything in between.
And if I’m honest with myself, despite traveling the world and living a life that most people dream of, I didn’t fully appreciate a lot of the beautiful moments along the way because I was so focused on where I wanted to be. I was always so focused on getting to the place where I am now (working remotely living on the beach making good money doing what I love), that I wasn’t fully present in those moments along the way. I was always thinking about where I wanted to be and how this moment right here is less than perfect, or how I could be enjoying it if I had more money or a more beautiful woman by my side — that I wasn’t grateful for where I was and how many people would switch places with me in the snap of a finger.
Thats why I have to pinch myself now and say “DUDE LOOK WHERE WE ARE!!!!”.
I’m also grateful for my experiences in meditation and buddhism because I recognise the impermanence of it all. This shit could disappear in the snap of a finger. In reality I don’t know how long this bliss will last. Which is why I have to actively appreciate it NOW. It’s not permanent, it’s transient, passing, fleeting. Here one second gone the next.
Which is why I have to take time to appreciate each day, each moment, of the journey, because I don’t give a fuck where I’m going (although I do), I give a fuck about where I AM.
(Then right after I wrote that line, in celebration of where I am right now — on the beach writing — I jumped in the ocean and screamed at the top of my lungs MUAHAHAHHAHAHA).
That’s why when I write, I don’t have a goal in mind of how many people I want to read it or what type of impact it will have. I write because I enjoy the activity of writing and writing brings me joy. When I get on the highline I don’t give a shit if I walk, I’m just happy to be out there on the line appreciating all the hard work it took me to get to be able to even have the courage to get myself out there. I enjoy high lining and high lining brings me joy. When I talk to people on the phone I don’t care if I make a sale, I care about connection and having a fun conversation. The act of talking to people gives me joy.
I’m focused on the process rather than the end result. Im focused on the enjoyment of the activity rather than the outcome.
It’s like John Wooden says, “the definition of success is the feeling of satisfaction that comes from knowing that you put in your best effort.” It’s not about the end result of what came out of your effort, it’s the process in and of itself. And if you truly enjoy what you are doing, the destination doesn’t matter, because you arrive at the destination in the journey itself.
It’s why so many athletic performers spend their entire lives chasing titles and accolades, only to win their first championship or finally achieve what they set out to do and still feel unfulfilled. It’s why so many entrepreneurs who finally get that exit they have been chasing for so many years still feel unfulfilled when they get it. They don’t realize that it was the journey and mission that provided them with fulfilment, excitement, and joy, and now that they have reached their goal, the journey is over and they didn’t fully appreciate the process along the way. The goal and destination blinded them from having fun along the way.
On the contrary, have you ever noticed that when you’re with your friends and family there’s no goal in mind? There’s no end result that you’re looking for? The goal is simply being with the people that you’re around. The process is so enjoyable because you’re in the moment. You don’t know what conversations will arise and what will happen. Everything is unpredictable. And that’s why it’s so fun! You’re immersed in the process rather than the destination.
Similarly, a few months ago I went to hang out with a childhood friend of mine in Miami. He is a DJ and music producer (among other awesome things), and I like to dabble in freestyle rap and impromptu strange noises and voices. When we got together, our only intention was to get into the studio together and have some fun. We didn’t have a goal in mind to create a piece of music or put down a track. But alas, through us just having fun and enjoying the process, we came up with this — one of the most hilariously awesome productions of my life.
When you go into the activity purely for the joy of the activity, not only do you enjoy it more along the way, I genuinely think that the outcome is better as well. Half the time when I sit down to write I have no idea what I’m going to write. I just sit down and let the words come out of me. When I jump on the Slackline or highline I just walk and do what feels fun. By allowing myself to fall into the process and be void of expectations or goals, I give myself the opportunity to surprise myself rather than being frustrated that I didn’t accomplish what I wanted. I like the feeling of being surprised a lot better 😉
So this article is a reminder to enjoy the process, enjoy the journey, enjoy where you are right now instead of where you’re going. This moment right here will pass. By the time this article is done, you’ll already be onto your next thought and next activity, so take time to relish where you currently are.
When you dive into work, enjoy the process of your work rather than what will come out of it. When you’re with friends enjoy their company and celebrate your relationships. If you read a book, enjoy the story rather than focusing on getting to the end. If you write or do art or music, do it for the sake of doing it, not for some specific outcome.
Take a moment to stop and appreciate where you are right now, in this moment. If you’re focused on the goal, you’ve missed the point 🙂
Originally published at Troy Erstling.