Travel: life's most potent methapor
At a certain age we start to learn that life is an accumulation of aptly placed metaphors.
"Life is like a box of chocolates..." --you never know what you're gonna get.
"Life is like an echo..." --what you send out always comes back.
"Life is like an elevator..."--sometimes you have to stop and let people off.
"Life is like photography..."--you develop from the negatives.
The meaning behind all of these hold relevance at various points in life, depending on our age and life circumstance. For some reason there seems to be great solace found in equating our lives to elusive inanimate objects that don't actually have any knowledge of their metaphorical significance.
But there is significance and understanding that can be found in the simple existence of everyday objects that culminate to make up our everyday existence and thus our lives. It's both sad and fitting that these aforementioned objects and metaphors attached to them will pass through our lives and be replaced by something more fitting and significant for our next life moment.
But I think some life metaphors can be deeply meaningful and can hold great relevance in relation to the deeper, genuine meaning of every individual human life. These are the metaphors that are alive, that we can tangibly create and experience, that we will remember until our very last breath.
There is one specifically that comes to mind:
A book by Donald Miller called A Million Miles in a Thousand Years tells the story of a guy trying to write a better life story for himself. Everyone should read this book, because it very simply but profoundly reminds us that life is about the journey, not the destination.
Which brings us quickly back to travel. Because that's what travel is. A journey. And through traveling, like life, we have to learn that. It takes awhile for us as humans to learn that hurrying up to get someplace (metaphorical or not) is hardly ever as gratifying as we think it's going to be. All too often, we get to where we want to be, realize it's not quite what we expected, and then set of on our way to someplace new, equally as eager to get there, only to be disappointed by the "finish line" we built up in our heads. We are like broken records with this behavior and it's a hard behavior to break, because from day one we are taught to reach for a job, a family, a place in society, so much so that we forget to look around ourselves on the way there.
Fortunately, there is a remedy for this.
While traveling, there are many days, sometimes maybe even many months at a time, that you might not know where the ending destination is. You know there is something out there you want to see, but you don't know what it is. You know there is a potentially life-changing experience out there with your name at, but you don't know when it's going to introduce itself. It's this exact way of existing within uncertainty that makes us stop, look around, and acknowledge the marvel of the journey itself. And when we start appreciating the journey, we start seeing all the things around us that we would have otherwise missed and it's both exciting and scary to think that some of these things can be the most profoundly life-changing.
Applying this travel journey philosophy to the journey of life makes our time here on Earth far more enjoyable and fulfilling than if we are always striving for the next best destination and in my opinion there isn't a metaphor that is more acutely accurate for life. Because inherent in life is movement and change and travel is, at it's core, just that. Movement from place to place, change in our priorities and world beliefs.
And it's easy to relate life to any form of travel, especially that which we experience every day. Sometimes we deserve to sit back, turn on cruise control and enjoy the familiar view as it peacefully passes by us, reminding us that even in our state of constant motion there is stability and certainty in the familiar and we are encouraged to appreciate it.
Other times, what's passing by outside of the window is less than familiar, and while we may not know exactly where we are, it can be kind of fun to know we are approaching someplace new. Sometimes we see this view from the passenger seat. Sometimes we see this view from the driver's seat. And both of these seats are ok in variable circumstances...we should only be concerned if we've stalled and are staring at the same view for a few too many sunrises.
Sometimes we live life in the fast lane. Other times we prefer to move more casually in the slow lane. Sometimes the road is smooth and other times it's filled with a few more potholes. That's life and it is both always and never changing.
Life is hard. Life is fun. Life is messy and at the same time a series of perfect coincidences. No one has ever not reached their final resting ground and no one can say the journey is always easy. Sometimes it feels hopeless and other times it feels inspired and sometimes an overwhelming mixture of everything in between. Just remember that when everything feels confused, uncertain, unhappy or unfair there is always a way to appreciate the journey...