October 4, 2011

The Journey & The Destination

I measure the differences between giving up and letting go.

What is the difference between giving up and letting go? An exhale of release, a quick glance upward, pursed lips, a gentle nod and then the small smile, a downward gaze and shoulders relax? Or an inhale held while the small knot at the nape of the neck forms and the shoulder blades rise to almost meet? To let go means I’m ready, to give up means I’m not? Does the difference lay in a sense of power? A sense of agency? But what’s in power and what’s in agency? And who are we to claim either? And what happens if we don’t?*

Too often (particularly these past few years), I have locked my eyes on the goal and stumbled along the rocky path, hitting walls and then scaling them or taking the long way around. My sights so far ahead, I can’t see the wall, the rocks, the footprints I’m walking in that don’t quiet match my shoe size, the signs with the small print.

It’s about the journey, not the destination.

Buddhism 101. Or 201, as it was for me. How easily I wrote that sentence that year. How easily I lived that sentence all four of those years. A fluid destination, a fluid goal that took different shapes, but still held the same elements – dreams and hopes and soft realities. A fluid destination I held out of focus – I wanted to pick up each stone, hold its weight in my hand, run my thumb over its smoothness.

I chose those years based on what I loved in those moments. I picked flowers along the path and laid down for hours to watch the moon move across the sky against a backdrop of stars. I trusted, without realization, without effort, that I walked the right path (and it was right, for me) without concern for the corners, crevices, crannies of the goal, then out of focus and amorphous.

I read and wrote and loved and played and built a life every single day with a trust that the future would take care of itself. And it did. Every single detail took care of itself. All those details, I love. I would not change a single one.

Too often, particularly these past few years, I have locked my eyes on the destination and stumbled down the path. Too focused on a career title to pick up a pen in late evening. Too focused on rolling over years from now to the same heartbeat to ask the swelling questions or tell the most important stories.

I make plans. I put in the work. I expect difficulties. I have goals.

I am letting them go. The plans. The goals. The destination.

(Different from giving up. Although, I have a difficult time measuring the difference.)

These days, I want to love the minutes. I want to read and write and love and play and build a life every single day with a trust that the future will take care of itself. I want to love the details.

“Emma, you have to shake it up a bit to really figure out what you want.”
“I know.” It came out as a sigh with vowels. 

The career. The relationship. The financial security. I am going to trust that I will get there. Or even more, I am going to trust that I will crash into each somewhere along the path I have chosen to walk (because each step is full and fulfilling) and I won’t even know if I have arrived at the destination or the destination has walked down that path to arrive in front of me. And it won’t matter.

It’s about the journey, not the destination.

*Written February 20th, 2006, 10:43 pm.

1 comment:

  1. This post is amazing! I'm struggling with these thoughts a bit at the moment. glad that I'm not alone <3