The good life is a process, not a destination – Carl Rogers
I have always been convinced that my life is waiting for me just around the corner.
I will be happy when I am a certain weight. I won’t consider a relationship until I am ‘fixed’. I will go back to school when I have a better job and have saved some money.
The trouble is that when you’re always thinking about the life that is waiting for you at some future juncture, you’re not living the life you have now.
It’s all well and good having goals to strive for – it’s motivating, it’s inspiring, it keeps us moving. My problem is that in keeping my eye on the final prize, I miss all the good stuff along the way.
I try to think of it as being on a train journey. If I’m solely thinking about getting to my destination, my head is probably full of plans and questions. How will I get to my hotel? Is it far from the station? Will I need to get a taxi? What if I can’t find it? I hope the booking is ok, maybe I should have called to check….what if they don’t have any record of my reservation? I didn’t look at the weather report, either. I hope the clothes I’ve brought are weather-appropriate. What was the name of that restaurant I wanted to go to? My phone battery is running low…did I bring my charger? I’ll have to ask at the hotel if I’ve forgotten it, see if they have a spare.
(I was smiling wryly as I typed that because it is very much the type of conversation I have running constantly through my head….and yet it looks so silly when I see it there in black and white.)
In thinking about what’s going to happen an hour or two down the line, I’m missing out on what could be a pleasant journey. I could buy a hazelnut latte and stare out of the window at the rolling hills, the sheep in the fields. I could talk to another passenger. I could read an amazing book, spend an hour or two in the trenches of World War I, in the magical, snowy land at the back of a wardrobe, in space, in France, in Henry VIII’s head.
My point is that it’s not solely about jumping from A-Z as quickly and effectively as possible. There is a whole alphabet in between. How boring would it be to read a book comprised entirely of A’s and Z’s? Or a book with no chapters, plot or development, just an opening and ending?
I’m still a worrier. I still fret about what I haven’t achieved yet, and how I can manage it, and how quickly I should be able to do it. But I’m also starting to recognise that that’s not what life is about. I’m starting to be more conscious of my present. I am able to remind myself when I start getting distracted that it’s not about hurtling along at full pelt and arriving first at wherever the destination may be, but about having the nicest possible journey, about drinking in the details and enjoying the experience, about travelling mindfully, and well.