I am super excited to bring you a two-part post. This week I tackle the famous Ralph Waldo Emerson quote, “life is a journey, not a destination.” Next week I am going to go against the grain and argue the exact opposite! So please stick around. Also, I encourage you to jump in to the comments section below with your opinions on both sides of the argument.
Running a marathon is a perfect example of both enjoying the journey and enjoying the destination.
Have you heard of the Hatfield McCoy Marathon?
The first half (13.1 miles) is called the Blackberry Mountain course, and it is probably one of my most favorite courses ever. It’s six miles of a steady, gradual uphill; the kind you don’t even realize you are climbing.
And then you reach mile 6.5, where you look up at a steep, curvy mountain. You think to yourself, “oh dear, there’s just no way I can get up that mountain while running.”
So you put your head down and power walk.
You pass signs along the way over to the right hand side of the road. They catch your attention. These signs offer words of encouragement for the runners who have run the race in previous years, and you meditate on each of the motivational phrases until you reach another unique sign.
Then you look up at the beautiful blue sky. You see the green all around you, enveloping you in God’s great creation. You hear fellow runners singing, laughing, and taking selfies. You give those folks a glance.
And then… you smile!
Yes, you! You smile! You smile 7 miles into a daunting task. Your smile creates an instantaneous bond with everyone else on that mountain. You are able to smile in the face of a challenge.
Life is about the journey!
It provides you a chance to connect with the earth. You get a moment to reconnect with yourself. You realize you are not alone on the uphill battle, you are with others facing similar struggles. You smile and join in with the laughter through the tough climb.
Picture it: six miles of a gradual uphill run. The slope is so mild that you can barely even perceive you are battling gravity with each stride.
The same can be said for our everyday stresses. How many times do you look back at your life and think, “Wow! No wonder running felt more difficult than usual, I was running uphill for six miles!” Or, “Wow! No wonder I have been unhappy lately, I’ve been working 14 hour shifts and rarely see my family!”
Picture it: a mile-long climb straight uphill. You’ve already put your body and mind through a high level of stress unknowingly, and then a mountain appears. You can’t seem to fathom how you are going to get up and over that thing.
The same can be said for the big challenges in our lives. By taking a moment to look around at the view while you are running/walking/crawling up Blackberry Mountain, you are a prime example of someone enjoying the journey.
It’s okay that the mountain is hard to climb because you’ve made new friends along the way. It’s okay that you have to slow down to catch your breath because there are plenty of motivational signs to keep you going.
Suddenly the race changes in your head.
Your perspective continues to shift to the journey. The finish line is still far off, and you can visualize yourself tackling the rolling hills of life, calmly trudging up each upcoming challenge and eagerly awaiting the reward of a flat stretch of road to settle back into a good pace.
But the journey! Oh, the journey!
The race can actually be somewhat enjoyable despite the pain. Quit running with your head down and earphones in, struggling through each mile. Smile, laugh, and finally take a picture with the “World’s Smallest Horses.” It’s part of the journey!
The finish line is in sight now. Blackberry Mountain is a phenomenal gift: a giant mountain in the middle of a race. This mountain could be a straw that breaks our back, or it could be a springboard for a new perspective.
Enjoy the journey. After 13.1 miles, the finish will be sweet, but it’s a whole lot sweeter if you take time to smile, laugh, and take selfies as you navigate the inevitable hills of the race.
Life is about enjoying the journey.
Part II is the opposite perspective! I actually wrote the second half of this post in my head from mile 19-26.2 of the Hatfield McCoy Marathon. Please be sure to subscribe at the bottom of the page, follow us on Twitter or Facebook, or just check back next Thursday for the rebuttal: Sometimes Life Is About Enjoying the Destination.
All the best to you!