The Journey vs. The Destination

Last night, I had the opportunity to reconnect with a childhood friend, uisna. We hadn’t spoken in, oh, about 35 years — we had lost touch with each other when I moved from Playa Del Rey to Brentwood (the community, 90049). Going through the photo albums got me searching out folks from my youth, and I was lucky enough to reconnect with her. But that’s not specifically why I’m writing this; rather, the call was a catalyst for some gelling thoughts.

When we spoke, there were these awkward pauses, almost like there was too much information to give out, and you couldn’t quite put it into words. I think that’s because the questions were about where we are now. That’s a hard question to answer after a long gulf, for there is so much context to describing where you are today. This got me thinking about the journey vs. the destination.

Back in the “old days”, we would savor the journey. We’d remember the car rides in the back of the station wagon. We would remember all the little places we stopped at. That greasy spoon. The men’s room at the Madonna Inn. The basque restaurant in Bakersfield. The meandering over the business route where we got lost. All the little side roads and trails. The destination was captured in the postcards, but the journey was what made it special. This is why air travel doesn’t have the same romance as driving or the train. We get to the destination far too fast: we don’t have time for the journey.

I was thinking about the reconnection, and I realized that I not only want to know where my long-lost friend is today (I know much of that from her Facebook), but her journey to that point. These aren’t the little day-to-day things we did as kids that are inconsequential, but what were the stops along the roadtrip of life. That all night diner where you made your spiritual choices. Those beat-up gas stations where you determined your career bit by bit. The parks where you met the loves of your life. The bus stations where those you loved departed. The side road you chose to take… or not take. Where you got lost. That dicey neighborhood you got into, that left you a little scared, but you made it out and to a better place. The journey is what makes and shapes your life, and it is the story of your journey that makes a reconnection special. It is the journey that captures the life, not the resume that indicates where you live today. Think about any successful movie or play: you watch it for the story of the journey.

Journeys are stories that can’t be told in a single status update or a tweet. They are long-form conversations, multiple-act plays. They are what makes life special.

I think that the next time we talk I’ll keep this in mind. I’m curious about her journey in life, and I’m guessing she’s curious about mine. And for the other folks reading this, I’m curious about your journey as well. I look forward to your sharing it.