Time and time again I need to remind myself, as well as students, that it’s the journey that counts; not the destination! Here’s a piece by Robert J. Hastings that I always look to when I feel stressed about the future:
Tucked away in our subconscious is an idyllic vision. We see ourselves on a long trip that spans the continent. We are travelling by train. Out of the windows we drink in the passing scene of cars on nearby highways, of children waving at a crossing, of cattle grazing on a distant hillside, of smoke pouring from a power plant , of row upon row of corn and wheat, of flatlands and valleys, of mountains and rolling hillsides, of city skylines and village halls.
But uppermost in our minds is the final destination. On a certain day at a certain hour we will pull into the station. Bands will be playing and flags waving. Once we get there so many wonderful dreams will come true and the pieces of our lives will fit together like a completed jigsaw puzzle. How restlessly we pace the aisles, damming the minutes for loitering – waiting, waiting, waiting for the station.
“When we reach the station, that will be it,” we cry. “When I’m 18!” “When I buy an new Mercedes!” “When I put the last kid through college!” “When I have paid off the mortgage!” “When I get a promotion!” When I reach the age of retirement, I shall live happily ever after!”
Sooner or later we must realize there is no station, no one place to arrive at once and for all. The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly outdistances us.
“Relish the moment” is a good motto. It isn’t the burdens of today that drive men mad. It is the regrets over yesterday and the fear of tomorrow. Regret and fear are the twin thieves who rob us of today.
So, stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles. Instead, climb more mountains, eat more ice cream, go barefoot more often, swim more rivers, watch more sunsets, laugh more, cry less. Life must be lived as we go along. The station will come soon enough.
Something I try to instill in my FWP students is that stress cannot exist in the present moment and the more time we spend in the present the less stress we experience. Unfortunately we spend most of our time thinking of, and often regretting, the past or worrying about the future. There is no purpose to worrying about things you can’t control, they will happen whether you worry or not; and what has passed is over. The only thing you can control is yourself; your own thoughts and actions. Everything else is beyond your control.