Everyday is a journey and the journey itself is home.
At Sukhna Lake, Bird Watching Trail.
Wilderness, thin-layered clouds overseeing the mountains, water bodies with deep jungle in the background and birds chirping around – life is good!
Always we hope
someone else has the answer,
some other place will be better,
some other time,
it will turn out.
This is it.
No one else has the answer,
no other place will be better,
and it has already turned out.
At the center of your being,
you have the answer:
you know who you are and
you know what you want.
There is no need to run outside
for better seeing,
nor to peer from a window.
Rather abide at the center of your being:
for the more you leave it,
the less you learn.
Search your heart and see
the way to do is to be.
– Lao Tzu
In 1923, the German thinker Eugen Herrigel, hoping to master Zen philosophy, visited Japan and immersed himself in archery. He wrote in his classic study “Zen in the Art of Archery”: “Archery is not practised solely for hitting the target; the swordsman does not wield the sword just for the sake of outdoing his opponent; the dancer does not dance just to perform certain rhythmical movements of the body.” The target may be hit, the opponent outdone, the dance technically perfect – but those outcomes will be merely the happy by-products of a deeper absorption with the activity itself. And that is best achieved, according to Herrigel, by avoiding prescriptive goals and techniques.
My point is – if we constantly keep our goal in perspective (and get overwhelmed by it), we become less efficient. Anxiousness (and sometimes fear) kills creativity. We rush through the process to see if our efforts are delivering results. Quest for instant gratification can result in sub-optimal outcomes
“Where is the joy in writing, dancing, film-making, or any art or entrepreneurial venture? It’s not in the praise; it’s not in a paycheck. (Though there’s nothing wrong with praise or paychecks.) It’s in the work itself. The sweat of it and the grind of it and the happy moments when it gets rolling all by itself. Krishna said that’s all we have a right to, and he hit the nail on the head. The joy is private and silent.”
The other day, I was reading out a short story of Akbar and the wise Birbal to my daughter. On his way back to Agra, Akbar encounters a crossroad and gets confused about which road to take. So, he stops a boy named Mahesh Das (later named as Birbal) and inquires about the road that goes to Agra. The young boy replies that none of these roads go to Agra. Akbar keeps his anger in check and seeks an explanation to which Birbal replies,
“Roads never go anywhere, people do.”
Life is the journey and a lot of it is shaped by the crossroads we encounter and the road we choose to take (if at all we get to choose). Then there are diversions, dead ends and slopes.
We may create grand plans and elaborate goals for our lives not knowing what lies ahead of us. Goals provide a good framework to direct our efforts but problem starts when treat our goals as our destination. I have learned that goals are simply milestones along the unknown path that we are onto. Worry too much about the milestones and you miss the beauty of the journey itself. Be anxious and it robs the joy out of the pursuit.
“Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of traveling.”
– Margaret Lee Runbeck
Much more fulfilling is to take this journey one step, one day, one moment at a time. To choose our path according to what we truly are and what kind of human being we want to become along the journey. To be driven by a grand purpose that makes a difference. To remain open to possibilities of life. To embrace abundance. To respond to changes in our journey as we encounter them. To slow down and notice things. To wander. To be driven by joy of doing things. To enjoy the ride and every moment within it. To work our way through diversions and get back on track. To evolve and learn from everything that we encounter en route.
Never regret a single moment of the journey. If it wasn’t your destination, it was preparation.
Then, the journey is not just a means to an end – it is the end in itself. Journey is the purpose.