Something tells me this is going to be a thing.
Because usually when I have my major breakthroughs, it’s during the 45 minute walk i have with Kipper.
So, I’m sure I’m not the only one who has trouble “enjoying the process.” I feel sometimes like I should be a lot farther along than I already am, I get impatient, I get hard on myself, because I’ve got goals, that, apparently, are gonna take a shit load of work to accomplish, and I find myself falling into that “Are We There Yet?” mentality.
And this, for me at least, tends to steal all the joy out of the process for me. I’ve noticed it causes unnecessary stress and suffering (to go a little Buddhist on you) and makes me forget what literally EVERY wise person has ever said over the years: “It’s not about the destination; it’s about the journey.”
But even remembering this, lately, I’ve been struggling with it. In fact, that phrase has just been pissing me off. And it’s not because I don’t agree with it, but because I’ve managed to intellectualize it, but haven’t yet been able to move that information down into my heart, where things really take effect.
And trying to force it doesn’t work (Surprise! More Process here!).
Oh, and by the way, I know for a fact that I’m not the only one who struggles with this, because, just the other day, a close friend of mine was getting down on himself because he kept taking “Two steps forward, one step back”.
And I reminded him that even “Two steps forward, one step back” is still making progress.
But anyway, being so good at giving insights and advice that I hardly ever follow myself (can I get an Amen?!), this convo actually brought to light one of my greatest struggles:
I have a really hard time letting go and just enjoying the process. I get so bogged down in my impatience over achieving that particular goal, over reaching that particular destination – (Are we there yet are we there yet are we there yet are we there yet are we there yet are we there yet are we there yet are we -) that I lose all sight of the scenery as I go along.
Which, for me, as well as I believe everyone, whether we realize it or not, is sort of defeating the purpose.
So I’ve just spent the last week asking myself, and my Higher Power, and the whole Universe, Why is it I have such a hard time with this? And how can I change it? Why do I get so stressed out over not making the progress I feel I should be making that I overlook the progress I very obviously HAVE MADE?
And how can I change it?
So I’m out walking my dog, Kipper, and I’ve got all this going through my head: When is this gonna happen, and When is that gonna happen, and Blah Blah Blah Let’s just not be grateful for anything ever again, right?
And it’s like I finally banged my head against that wall long enough that I just busted right on through it.
A thought came to me (or rather, several at the same time): This time next year, you’ll be trying to figure out how to juggle all the things you’ve accomplished, and you’ll be stressed out about THAT, so why are you trippin’?
It’s on it’s way to you right now. You’re on YOUR way to it, right now.
Then: Oh shit. Is this what they mean when they say “Act as if”? Is this what all that Law Of Attraction stuff is talking about when they say “Feel like you’ve already got it?”
Is this what Jesus meant when he said “Even before you ask, know that it’s already been done?”
I mean, Einstein basically showed us that time is just an illusion anyway. And quantum physics is proving it; that past, present, and future are really all one big thing and it’s our puny human minds that are breaking it down and categorizing it so we can understand it.
So I flashed forward in time to when I’ve already got all these things I want, and several things happened:
First, yes, I felt the feeling of already having it. But second, and most importantly, I think, I actually remembered a few other teachings Ive heard over the years:
Don’t sweat the small stuff (and it’s all small stuff).
And “If it’s not gonna matter five years from now, don’t spend five minutes worrying about it.”
Then I took this into work with me the next day, where I work in a high volume restaurant. And if any of you have ever worked in a restaurant, you’ll know how stressful it can be.
What happened during the course of that shift was nothing less than a miracle. For every shitty, ill-tempered guest that came in wanting to pass their personal suffering onto us, for every coworker who was standing around, too lazy and engrossed in their refusal to do even one of the ten things of side work that needed to be done, I just asked myself:
“Is ANY of this going to matter a year from now?” The answer, as you might have guessed, was obviously NO.
Shit – It wasn’t gonna matter 5, 3, 1 HOURS from now when my shift ended and I walked out of there with a fat wad of cash to deposit.
So why bother stressing over it now?
And then something magical happened: not only did none of that stress me out, I actually started being amused by it.
I even started laughing at it all.
But my epiphany didn’t end there. Oh no.
Flash forward to my nightly routine with Kipper, walking through the neighborhood at midnight:
Same questions going through my mind: IF I already know that all my goals are gonna be met (HAVE already been met, according to quantum physics and Jesus), why this sense of impatience? Where’s the joy?
I get so caught up in the destination, wondering if I’m ever gonna arrive, when apparently, that’s not even what’s important. It’s the journey that’s important. It’s where the joy is at.
And really, I keep getting signs from the Universe that reassure me that I’m most definitely on the right track. I’m absolutely going in the right direction, and if I’m on the right track, going in the right direction, then it’s pretty much inevitable that I reach my goal, sooner or later.
So why not relax and enjoy the journey?
All of this, here, now, is temporary.
Then I remembered something I wrote a few years back, but apparently had forgotten, because, well, that’s what we do when wisdom never moves from the head to the heart:
When I fully accepted the impermanence of all things, all people became special, all moments became golden. My life became full, and yet, I had nothing to lose. I was free.
I had forgotten about this. And, as I read it, something interesting happened:
As I was walking Kipper, my mind flashed forward in time, then forward again, and I saw us both, in the Grand Scheme Of Things, as nothing more than bones in the ground.
One day, that is all my dog will be. Just a memory, his physical form nothing more than bones in the ground.
One day, all I will be is bones in the ground. Just a memory.
(None of this, by the way, was depressing or morbid in the least. In fact, it filled me with a new appreciation for the present moment, and the joy that it contained.)
I was actually able to see all this, in my mind’s eye: my current body, as nothing more than bones in the ground; the world, and my soul, moved on to other things.
I looked around me at all the houses Kipper and I were passing, and saw vines growing over them, because, eventually, society as we know it will also move on.
And then it hit me: my life, THIS LIFE OF MINE, is but a single, solitary tick mark on the timeline of the Universe. That’s it. Just one, little, tiny tick mark. On one long fucking timeline.
And this moment, on the timeline of MY LIFE, is but a single little tick mark. That’s it. Nothing more.
Kind of puts things in perspective for me, reminds me to focus on what’s really important.
And let everything else be the nonsense that it is.
And as far as enjoying the process? Not focusing so much on the destination?
There’s and analogy for the Third Step that I like, where I’m in a boat, and I’m rowing the boat, and God is at the helm, and I just have to trust, and have faith.
And there’s one thing God will NEVER do for me: Row the boat. He’ll let me drop the oars, and spin wildly out of control, and just wait patiently for me to pick them back up again and begin rowing. And once I do, I’m almost immediately set back on course again, but He will NOT, under any circumstances, start rowing the boat for me.
That’s MY JOB.
His job is to remain at the helm.
My job is to trust that He’s steering me in the right direction. Along the way, I’ll see things that will indicate, Yes, I’m going in the right direction.
So all this Learning to enjoy the journey, and not focus so much on the destination?
Well, if I flash forward far enough, I’ve already accomplished all my goals. I’ve already written the books, I’ve already made the movies, I’ve already played the music, I’ve already seen the countries, and I’ve taken a bunch of pictures just to prove it.
Flash forward just a little ways past that, and I’m nothing more than bones in the ground, a memory in the mind of the Almighty.
So this begs an even more important question: What exactly IS the “destination”?
Scientists have discovered that the Universe is still expanding.
Which means that not even GOD HIMSELF has reached His destination.
Which, quite possibly, means that perhaps, THERE IS NO DESTINATION.
WHICH WOULD MEAN THAT IT’S ALL JUST A JOURNEY.
So maybe we should relax, and enjoy it.
Are we there yet?