Life's Not a Journey

Last Sunday morning I watched a little video on FB. Having just had enjoyed an episode of one my favourite (actually a bit of a love/hate thing going on there) TV shows before (lots of human drama - don't we all know that one), this made me very thoughtful.

I went into the kitchen and prepared my breakfast. My son was still fast asleep – so I was on my own (well, with the dog).

And decided to leave my pad and my phone out of the kitchen. No radio or Alexa either. So, it was quiet. And when I started eating, I enjoyed the crispy edges of the rye bread which I had toasted before putting butter on it. It had melted into the bread and I could taste it now with every bite. I noticed the slightly sweet and coolish taste of the ripe tomato (from my October harvest) in my mouth. I saw the irregular pattern of red flakes of chili in the guacamole I had prepared earlier and the considerable difference in texture of all I ate. Creamy, fresh, crunchy. My brain wandered off…well, more my thoughts I guess (just had to giggle imaging my brain walking away ;-)), I caught myself and brought my attention back.

I even noticed the slight roughness of the wooden surface my plate was on. The pattern, the colour. I heard my pug sniffling and rustling on her beanbag, making herself comfortable. I listened to the humming of the fridge. And tasted the slight tartness of coffee on my tongue.

Time seemed to slow down. And I felt utterly content and peaceful. So much, that my heart seemed to swell with a wave of gratitude.

Despite the fact that I have a number of challenges in my life right now (who doesn’t?)

I was….present. Here.

And realized what this little video had stated is true.

LIfe's not a journey.

When will we arrive?

We’re all told (and believe) that this is what it is. And we behave accordingly.

  • We go to school….well, we’re rather sent there.
  • We’re striving to get the best grades possible, often almost killing ourselves in the process (did you know that 32% of all kids below 18 are diagnosed with anxiety of some sort?)…either because we don’t want to disappoint our parents or because our own expectations are super high….or we believe we’ll be a failure in life if we don’t perform and work like a horse.
  • Then we’re going to Uni/grad school…whatever it is – the higher the education, the better.
  • Then we’re striving for the next step – the career, the family, the house, the dream car….whatever it is we’re telling ourselves is success.
  • And when we have a moment to breathe, we’re out for entertainment. For fun. Or managing our other obligations of which we all have (or put on ourselves) plenty. Or we simply sleep, as life seems so exhausting. Or many of us start numbing ourselves to even being able to relax. Anything we’re doing excessively is numbing ourselves btw….it does not have to be drugs or alcohol (a topic for another time).

Eventually we’ll arrive, right? After all a journey is about reaching a destination.

Have the title.

Have the position.

Have the family.

Have the house everybody envies us for.

Have the family holiday to exotic destinations twice a year.

You name it….

And there is generally nothing wrong with that. Unless we’re always striving for this next thing to come, in the hope that we’ll arrive and finally feel all those feelings of success, achievement, peace of mind, love (finally we got the time for it – right?) or even contentment….happiness.

There are even motivation trainers out there telling us to never be satisfied, always go and crave for the next thing (…so that you can be happy eventually).

In fact there is a destination life, which we all have in common: death. And I’m in no hurry to get there…

So, for me life is no friggin’ journey, rushing to get to the next destination.

Our life is there to be lived. Simple. 

NOW.

Most of us live in the past....or the future 

Not a dwelling on the past.

Almost all of us carry around our personal trauma. Or we inherited the ones of our family and carry those (that is epigenetics….yet again a topic for another time). And not many of us take the time to look at all the painful stuff. REALLY look at it. So, the past has often power in or even over the Now.

Life’s neither meant to be dreaming about the future either all the time (which is obviously so much better than today).

And still, most of us do exactly that. Past or future. Hardly ever the NOW.

Which means we’re missing out on a lot. On those things life has to offer. The good and the bad (yes, even with the greatest personal growth we’re not safe from adversities in our life). The sweetest moments in our life and the utterly painful ones. Both can give us so much if we surrender to them, if we accept them as living life fully.

Your life happens NOW (in fact that's the only thing we have...the past is gone, the future's not here yet - makes probably even sense for the most logical amongst you). 

Dive into it, don’t escape or put blinders on because you’re headed for a destination (which might never come) and not seeing what’s on the way because your eyes and mind are locked on this goal or destination....or because you don't want to see what's happening, as you don't like it.

Maybe – like the narrator or the video said, life is a bit like dancing. We’re not dancing to get to a destination. We just do it to enjoy it now.

If you’re not a dancer, this might resonate more with you: When you listen to music. Really listen. Then it’s not about doing that a bit faster, so that you reach the end of the piece, right? It’s about listening to the tune, maybe feeling the cadence and the notes which resonate with something deep inside of you and creating all sorts of emotions, each and every moment of the piece.

Having a direction and a vision is great – as both keep us aligned not necessarily with our goals, but with ourselves. With who we are, deep in our hearts. Don’t fall into the trap though believing that you have to suffer through all sort of shit just to eventually arrive. Or hurry, because you see others run faster.

I started slowing down and pay attention  - regularly. And particularly when I realize that I fell into the journey belief trap. Or I notice that I don’t even listen to my loved ones anymore because I think about the next person to call, the next program to design or the tax declaration which has to be done. Or when I find myself distracting myself or doing stuff every moment of my life. When I don’t even realize or taste what I’m eating or don’t notice the sunshine while being busy with chores.

When I forget to sometimes just BE, not DO.

Stop running and rushing to your death

So, I change my focus. Like this morning.

When I ate my breakfast. Alone. With no media distracting me. Fully focussed on what I was eating, listening to my own thoughts and bringing my attention back into the NOW. Fully accepting of who and where I am NOW in this moment. Being present. Tasting. Seeing. Being alive and awake.

These can be moments of deep insights about ourselves and immense growth. Or sometimes just moments of stillness and joy. And you don’t have to be alone for that.

These moments can be those we spent with the most important people in our life – while really being there. Or in the middle of a crowd. While we read a book or talk to someone on the train. Or while strolling through nature, taking it all in. And breathe. 

Stop running and rushing. To your final destination...I know. That's drastic. Sometimes we need utter honesty to see what we're really doing. You and me.

You’re growing and expanding, continuously. We all do (well, best case scenario….). And we’re not on a journey with a destination where all will be superdooper when you get there. 

I know it’s not always easy. And I often fail, too.

Let’s live now. Tomorrow might never come.

PS: This is not some weird hippie shit. This is also not being fatalistic. Everyone who knows me can confirm that I’m a rather pragmatic person with a fairly “normal”(whatever that means) life – i.e. I had my tough times, I had my good times. It’s rather (one of) the insight(s) that came to me and for which I’m incredibly grateful for. As it makes my life so much richer. Calmer. Less stressful. And full of love. For life, myself and others. Well, I still struggle with the arseholes that show up in my life…after all I’m still growing too –  that’s a story for another time though

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