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Journey or destination

Philip writes about summer work and setting up some goals for the summer. In looking at his goals, he realizes that some are things he wants to "do" and other are things he wants to "get done", so he changes them to all be things he wants to do.

I've always found the journey vs destination metaphor to be more useful. I've never been very interested in going out to ride my bike around: I want to have a destination. And I find it very satisfying to get there. Sometimes it's OK to just noodle around aimlessly, but I'm not likely to push myself or try very hard that way.

That said, I try to be mindful all along the way. I stop to look at flowers, take side trips to explore new places along the way, or just to rest and look toward the mountains. And to be prepared to shift to a different destination if something else seems better.

To me, that's what the distinction is: I'm not undertaking a journey for the journey's sake. I'm setting out for myself: to get somewhere. It doesn't have to be somewhere new or exciting, but I'd have a hard time traveling without some kind of goal in mind. Imagine it:

Fred says, "What are you doing this summer?"

George replies, "I'm going to travel."

Fred says, "Oh! Where are you going?"

George replies, "Well, I'll be in a car for a while. And then maybe I'll go on a train. And then..."

Fred interrupts, "No. I mean what is your destination?"

George replies, "What is this 'destination' of which you speak? I'm going to travel!"

I remember the metaphor I used when I was working on my dissertation. To me, it was like crossing a mountain range: I spent a year going back and forth looking for an easy pass over the mountain range and when I couldn't find one, I began climbing up first one mountain and then another. In the middle, it looked like mountains all around and I was totally unable to imagine how I'd gotten there or how I would ever finish. But, eventually, I climbed up the last mountain and then was down the other side and through before I knew it.

Having a destination gives meaning to the journey. I mean, it's a little like "walking". Without a destination, you might as well be playing golf.