Whats more important, the journey or the destination?

Do you measure journey time or measure destination time? I have a patch on one of my jeans which says “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” How often in life do we get so wound up with what we are going to do, or where we want to go that we forget the joy in the journey. Our destination, our goals become so overpowering that we forget the process, we forget to live each day. We live in the future and never enjoy the minutes which are happening one at a time. We become so consumed with our purpose or goals that we ignore the flowers and birds that surround us. We forget to smell the roses. The famous atheist and socialist Emma Goldman said “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be in your revolution.” We take ourselves and our lives too serious. How often have you known someone who upon experiencing their first heart attack and surviving it suddenly decided to reprioritize what was important in their life? This wakeup call for mortality helped them to realize that they were missing out on what life is meant to be. Why take a trip if you cannot enjoy the journey?

Every so often when I was growing up, my father would take us on a trip. It was usually to visit my grandparents in Alabama. I hated those trips. My father would drive like a maniac, watching the clock every minute to see how he could cut minutes or seconds off the trip. He was obsessed with how fast he could get there. Sometimes we would sleep in the car through the night. We would often pass restrooms because he would not waste time stopping. When he finally got around to it, we would pee at the side of the road. There was no stopping for road side rests. No stopping for any sights or marvels that the world might put up for display. My father’s sole and unremitting quest was to see how fast he could get us from NY to Alabama.

These trips were hated by me, my mother and my siblings. They were never fun nor do I remember one minute of pleasure on any of these trips. It was not until I was 13 that I had a good trip down south. My mother decided to take a train with my two sisters and leave early and my father and I were going to go with my Uncle Paul and his father (Pop Hofer). My uncle was not going to let my father spoil a perfectly good trip by ignoring the sites along the way. For the first time in any of these trips, we stopped. We stopped in Washington D.C. to see the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. We stopped at Luray Caverns and visited the underground caves. We stopped at Ruby Falls to see the underground waterfall. We stopped at Lookout Mountain and rode the train up and down. We stopped to eat along the way. We stopped at a motel and stayed the night. I will never forget this trip or my uncle for helping me to find a life along the way. I learned then that the journey can be as important as the destination.

What if you get there and you hate it? What if you have not learned to enjoy life along the way? What if you never get there? What about the people who had a first heat attack and it was their last? Do you stop to smell the roses? Do you stop to pick raspberries? Is your life so busy that you don’t enjoy the journey? Do you have to have a “heart attack” to teach you to enjoy the journey?

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. bgalbreath
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 15:50:29

    It's interesting to me that I go in both directions (or one direction in my mind and the other in behavior). I think it's only the journey, because I think we never get there. We come in, in the middle, after things have started, and we go out, in the middle, before things have come to an end. We will never see how things turn out, and that's what a “destination” means to me. The attraction of end of the world scenarios, both religious and secular, is that they feed into this apparently inborn wish to be there at the end and to see how all the “story lines” get tied up. Someday life on earth will be over, but I don't think it will be for billions of years.

    On the other hand, when it comes to prosaic family trips, I am quite a bit like your father. I want to get to the destination as quickly and cheaply as possible. My most frequent trip is going to the Cleveland area to see relatives. It takes 12 hours, and I would not think of splitting the trip into 2 days and staying in a motel. When my 2 boys were young I would sometimes drive all night with then sleeping to spare them the boredom. I still go there at least once per year, with my mother and her boyfriend, doing almost all the driving. We must have gone through Buffalo 40 times or more, and we have never gone 30 miles out of our way to see Niagara Falls.

    I don't think it's “time cheapness” or that I want to spend more time with my aunt, uncle and her kids and their kids. When I said I don't believe we ever get to the destination, I think that applies to the short term as well as the ultimate long term. I arrive at my aunt's house and immediately get caught up in what is (already) going on in their lives. Helping out, giving advice, having experiences together. I week later I leave and their affairs go on without me. I come in in the middle and go out in the middle.
    I don't find the driving itself personally painful. I think about a lot of things while I drive, listen to the radio, or talk, and don't get bored. So why do I want to get through it so quickly? My guess is that it's money cheapness. But even that doesn't quite hold water. I spend very little when I'm on the road, to the extent that it doesn't cost me anything much more than when I'm home. So I really have no good explanation why I don't stop and smell the roses. Maybe now I will.



  2. John Persico
    Dec 17, 2011 @ 11:28:08

    For me, the driving depends on the associations I have with the trip. Fun trip, driving is fun. Boring just lets get there trip, driving is boring and tedious. I have so much fun when I am traveling but I still have not erased all of the negative memories from those trips with my father. A classic case of son trying to undo parental conditioning?



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: