There’s a word which used to be in common parlance but has since been relegated to the realm of clichéd euphemisms and melodramatic book and movie titles – journey.
No, my dear and painfully nostalgic reader, not the rock band of the 70’s and 80’s, I’m talking about “journey” – a sojourn through life.
It first came into existence around 1200 AD, taken from the Old French word journee meaning, “a day’s work or travel.” The English version came to mean, “one’s path in life.”
For those of us who live here in the 21st century – in a world the people of 1200 AD wouldn’t even be able to comprehend (hell, I don’t understand reality TV and spray cheese) – the word has lost much of its profundity and depth. Indeed, if you search for the word “journey” in the all-knowing and all-seeing oracle that is Google / Skynet, you’ll find more references to the band than you will descriptions of the winding path taken through life.
The loss is ours I think, but I beg you dear reader: don’t stop believin’.
When we travel, we no longer embark on a journey. This century of automation, speed and convenience has reduced the magical and educational adventure of the journey to a task, focused more on the destination than on the path itself. In the words of former member of Monty Python and avid traveler Michael Palin:
“…air travel shrink-wraps the world, leaving it small, odourless, tidy and usually out of sight.”
We’ve become so obsessed with speed, so focused on end-goals that we’ve forgotten the point of leaving in the first place. Few people go on journeys anymore, everyone takes “trips.” The sense of adventure has been largely buried under package holidays, neatly dressed facades and drinks festooned with those annoying little umbrella thingies.
Even in its more esoteric sense, the idea of a journey is slowly disappearing. We’re totally focused on “goals” and “targets” now, so obsessed with reaching the next milestone that we fail to appreciate (and in some cases even perceive) the things, people and experiences in between.
Don’t misunderstand me my carbon-based confederates, there’s nothing wrong with having goals in life. Indeed, I have a few of my own. My concern is that we spend so much of our lives staring at the prize, we miss the real treasures along the way.
We can only truly experience the present moment. The future is a uncertain possibility, the past an immutable memory. Focusing on the present ensures that you live every day of your life to its fullest extent – never wasting a single moment of the time you’ve been given.
If you’ve been on the collective hallucination and digital gestalt that is the world-wide-inter-web-net for more than 17 seconds, you’ve probably encountered the idea of “FOMO” or “fear of missing out.” Usually it refers to the anxiety people have about missing the activities of others on social media. I think I suffer from a very different kind of FOMO – the fear of missing out… on life.
Our lives are not lived in the broad strokes. The large events that occur in our lives can be profound, terrible, uplifting or devastating, but it’s the details, the tiny moments in between that truly matter.
- An infant opening his or her eyes to an entirely new world where literally every single thing is utterly and inexpressibly new and wondrous.
- The scent of your partner’s perfume wafting across the table as you realize you’re falling madly and hopelessly in love.
- The meal that seems to ignite every one of your senses in an explosion of flavour and aromas.
- The mix of excitement and sadness when leaving home for the first time.
- The final moments spent with a beloved pet as the light fades from their loving eyes.
These moments and countless others are what make up the journey of life. They are the individual moments of an epic odyssey, the greatest story ever told…