“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” – Ursula K. Le Guin from her 1969 novel The Left Hand of Darkness.
I saved that quote some time ago with the intention of exploring it is a post. Most of us probably have a number of ends that we are journeying towards. Those are our life goals or our dreams and hopes for the future. What ends are you striving towards?
It is important to understand the message in Le Guin’s quote – that the journey itself is what matters – the successes and disappointments along the way; the process of problem solving and overcoming obstacles we go through as we make progress; and the people that we encounter along the way.
The journey itself becomes the end – the thing that we enjoy and the thing that keeps us going. How many times have you reached a goal or achieved a dream only to find that finally getting there was much less satisfying than you imagined, perhaps being disappointed that the journey towards that end was over?
Life itself is a journey that we all are on. For many there is a not to satisfying end to that journey – they see only death. For a Christian, the end of the journey of life is just the beginning of another for which there is no end. So, if one believes that there is eternal life after death, it behooves us to enjoy the current journey we are on towards that end in this life.
Enjoying the journey means taking time to savor the moments of small victories and being open and welcoming of the people that we meet along the way. It means finding joy in the problem solving that we must do on the journey. It means overcoming the negatives and celebrating the positives. Each step in our life journey and each new friendship that we make on our journey should be relished because we shall not come this way again.
One way to enjoy the journey of life is to set broad-stroke and open-ended goals for the time that you have here, such as:
I want to be the best person that I can be
I want to help as many other people as I can
I want to live a life of loving, caring and sharing
I want to live a life that reflects the teachings of Jesus
Goals like those essentially define a journey that has no end, so the journey itself become the end. Each of those goals give us something to strive for and we can look back at the end of each day and assess how we did that day, what progress we made towards meeting those goals, and what we must do different tomorrow to continue our journey towards those goals. If you need an accountability partner for this journey, I know of none better than checking in with God in prayer each night. If you ask God in your prayers the questions, “How did I do today and what can I do better tomorrow?” the answers will come to you. Listen for that soft voice of God in the back of your mind.
Set your goals and step off on your journey. There’s no end in sight. Just check in with God to see how you are doing and to get help with what is next.
Enjoy the journey.