Joy in the Journey


I discovered that joy is in the journey, not merely the destination.

I used to get disappointed. I’d have high hopes for some event or some special outcome, and when folks didn’t show up or it got rained out or my car wouldn’t start or any number of unforeseen things burst my high-flying balloon, I’d get irritable. I would make plans and I was attached to an expected outcome. When things didn’t turn out like I wanted, I failed to see the blessings often disguised as shortcomings or failures. Thankfully, I’ve grown some, and now I realize that joy is in the journey, not in a perfectly charted outcome. I’m learning to be attached to nothing, open to everything. In other words, to trust, to “let go and let God.”

What About Tomorrow?

When I was a kid people around here would talk about their plans for the future. The old folks I knew were often hesitant to make a definite commitment to be somewhere or carry out some ironclad plan, so they’d say, “I’ll be there, Lord willin’ and the creeks don’t rise.” Now, growing up in a flood plane puts a deep (pun intended) spin on that old saying and the one that follows, “We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”  They knew life is uncertain and unpredictable, so even though they might make a commitment, they always left things just a little open-ended, because you never know what’s going to happen tomorrow or after while. Often we fret, ponder and muse over future events and how they will unfold. Truthfully, the only moment we really have is the one we’re in. Yesterday is a memory and everything that happened before now is no longer reality; tomorrow is fleeting because when it gets here it’s always today, always just right now. So, if we are thankful now, appreciative now, filled with wonder now, kind now, then we end up with good memories and high hopes. We literally move from one joyous moment to the next.

Mind of a Jedi

I guess I’ve got movies on the brain at this moment. I am recalling a scene in Star Wars where Yoda scolds Luke Skywalker for always being where he is going rather than where he is. When we live in the past or the future, we rob ourselves of the now, of the journey. Sadness is regret over yesterday. Anxiousness is worry over tomorrow that things might not turn out right. True power is found in the art of being present, being mindful of now, being fully in the moment and appreciating the people around you. We don’t have the power to change others and we don’t have a commission to control them. We owe no one anything except to love them. That means to see them for who they are, value them and show kindness. Being kind is the most spiritual thing you can do–ever. At least, that is what I currently believe. Being kind stops hatred before it’s born.

Take no Thought

We worry about sickness, about finances, about where we will live, what we will eat and on and on it goes. We are constantly concerned about the end results and the final destination, but as King Mongkut says in Anna and the King, “…roads are for journeys…not destinations.” Bilbo Baggins comes to my mind; he told Frodo in Lord of the Rings that when you step outside your door, you never know where the path will take you and of the old saying, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Life is uncertain, change is inevitable. Jesus said not (take no thought) to worry about tomorrow, but trust I Am to provide what we need when we need it, not before. I believe we are spirit beings having a physical experience. We are eternal entities playing on a temporal playground. The trouble happens when we begin to believe that this is all there is. No. This is merely a temporary trip into time and corporeal existence. When the bell rings, the whistle blows, we will return home and this life will be a memory. We were put in this world to have an abundant life, a beautiful life, a blessed life, not to fret and worry about how long we will be here or how much stuff we can gather along the way.

There are No Winners, No Losers

This existence is not a contest. There are no winners and losers in the end. We are here to experience, to give and receive love. I think all of us come into the world with good intentions but sometimes we get lost along the way. We get off the perfect path for our lives. We stray from the way, forgetting who we are and why we are here. Any time worry, fear, anxiety, anger, criticism, jealousy, bitterness, or any other dark emotion rises up inside of us, we are momentarily straying from our pathway.

When our inner being (the Bible calls it our spirit man/woman/person) is ill at ease over a direction we’re going in, it is to our own advantage to change directions and go in the path that brings us inner peace and this, following this path of inner peace, is how we obtain joy in the journey. I’ve heard some people refer to it as the path of least resistance. The Apostle Paul called it being “led by the spirit” and letting the “peace of God rule (umpire, call the shots) in your heart.” This is the way to abundant life. Abundant life is not found in possessions, not found in fame, not found in being beautiful, not found in being talented or smart. Abundant life is found in being in tune with and led by the spirit of God, I Am.