Thursday, May 15, 2014

Resolving to Enjoy the Journey


Just because it’s been said many times, that doesn’t mean we don’t need to be reminded: Life is a journey, not a destination. As someone on a talk show observed recently, if we don’t enjoy special moments along the way, we might find the destination isn’t what we thought it would be.

Sometimes in writing blog posts I lecture myself, and this is one of those times. I tend to focus on the destination – the goal – and neglect to stop and smell the proverbial flowers along the way. Maybe that’s one reason I enjoy taking photographs wherever I go. After the trip’s over, I can go back and review the pictures I took, revisit the experience, and maybe remember what I should have been paying closer attention to at the time.

When we’re children we can’t wait to become teenagers, and when we’re teens we’re eager to be grown up. I remember during my college years, the diploma and my career were the focus, but now I fondly recall many stops along that journey. I can’t remember the graduation ceremony, but countless hours on the tennis court, the friends I made, and campus romances remain firmly entrenched in my memory bank.

The pauses along the journey, when
we allow ourselves to catch our
breath and just "be," can provide
us with indelible memories.
I don’t think I did that badly as a dad for our young daughters, but now wish I could have ignored the press of deadlines more and took greater enjoyment in just watching them grow up. But I was building a career, looking to the future, and too often forgot to notice the present.

During my days as a magazine editor, the grind to get out the next edition was paramount, but the planning sessions during which I, the graphic designer, the cartoonist and other members of our editorial team argued and laughed – sometimes at the same time – are what stand out now.

Maybe that’s why Jesus tried to impress upon His followers they were too concerned about tomorrow: 

“But seek first (God’s) kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:33-34).

While the essence of Jesus’ teaching was to trust in God’s provision, He also was pointing out the importance of living in the moment rather than constantly scoping out the horizon.

Another time He told a parable about a wealthy farmer whose crops were so abundant he decided to build bigger barns for storing them. After the construction project was completed the rich man planned to assure himself, “’You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy, eat, drink and be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you’” (Luke 12:16-20).

Instead of appreciating the moment, the rich man kept preparing for a future that never arrived.

So what I need to do – and would encourage you to do as well – is become more cognizant of the present, keeping my eyes and ears open as I proceed along this earthly journey, recognizing the course I take is not happenstance, but part of God’s perfect plan for me, my family and people I encounter along the way.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Poet Robert Frost wrote about “The Road Not Taken,” closing with the lines:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

If we concentrate too intently on arriving at our destination, oblivious to what surrounds us along the journey, we could miss that road less traveled by, as Frost called it.

It does help to remain mindful that itinerary changes will occur and should be expected, and not to become annoyed when they do. There’s good reason behind them: “In his heart man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).

I need to make a stronger, more conscious effort to “consider the lilies of the field,” as Jesus said in Matthew 6:28. How about you?

1 comment:

Richard Cox said...

Each day is filled with moments that we ignore in favor of some urgent task. Not to say we should not be diligent in our obligations, but there are rare and unique times to stop and really look at the world around us. The laughter of a baby, the beauty of the sunrise, the warm embrace of those you love or just a smile shared by a stranger, all sent to brighten our day. There are so many little things that come to bring us joy, if we but take a moment to realize they are all around us. Thank you Bob for giving me a reminder. There is nothing so precious as a life well lived.