It is the path not the destination that matters
I enjoy puzzles, especially crossword puzzles, but I like other types of puzzles as well: word games, brain teasers, and jigsaws.
Partway through a recent jigsaw, a friend asked what I was going to do with it when I finished. I know people who have mounted and framed completed jigsaw puzzles. That was not to be the case with this puzzle. I’d borrowed the puzzle from the clubhouse library of the community I am wintering in. When I completed the puzzle, I would take it apart, put it back in the box and return it to the clubhouse.
Although the aim was to master the challenge of completing the puzzle, the exercise was less about the completed puzzle than the effort itself. It was an enjoyable and relaxing activity.
I am a goal-oriented person. a list maker and a planner. Realizing the jigsaw puzzle was more about fun and the process than the finished product was a revelation for me. Goals and dreams are important in life. We should celebrate our achievements and the achievements of friends and family. But we should also be enjoying the path and the steps along the way. More time is spent along that path than basking in the satisfaction of a goal achieved.
This can apply to our lives’ works and dreams and it can apply to how we travel the world in a more literal sense, taking time to appreciate what is around us instead of rushing from landmark to landmark to check them off a bucket list. T.S. Eliot said, “The journey not the arrival matters.” (I think even Eliot would say this doesn’t apply to modern airplane travel.)
Neil Gaiman’s words “Tomorrow may be hell, but today was a good writing day, and on the good writing days nothing else matters” resonate with the writer in me. I suspect many writers have a love-hate relationship with their craft, but it is the joy of writing, the magic of a well-chosen word or phrase and the need to write which gets us through the rejection letters, the lousy first draft and the incessant doubts about our abilities.
At the end of one year and start of another, people often reflect on where they are and where they are going. I am enjoying my journey. The jigsaw experience is a good reminder to savour the moments along the way. Not every moment will be perfect and at times there will be things I need to do that are not so enjoyable. But if what I am doing starts to feel like drudgery more often than not, it may be time to reassess. I may have taken a wrong turn along the way and wound up on someone else’s path or dream. Re-orientation may be necessary.
It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end. Ernest Hemmingway.
How do you feel about your journey?