Enjoying the Journey

Life Is About Enjoying the Journey

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!
-Meghan

11 comments on “Life Is About Enjoying the JourneyAdd yours →

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  1. Great job finding the fun on that race! I ran that one too, and loved every step (Until mile18, where running the mountain half in under 8:30/mile pace + heat caught up with me. Dehydration is a terrible thing. I was too busy snapping pictures and telling bad jokes to anyone near by to pay close attention to my water intake.

    I find that the journey is where all the memories are made (ie: Finding Abraham Lincoln on the car ride down, learning about my running group friends, sleeping in a fire house, finding a building made of coal) but the destination, what makes the journey, is never really defined. Did you seek to land in Williamson, WV? Did you seek to finish a marathon? Did you seek to have an adventure and make new friends? The destination is a constantly changing and flowing device that makes the journey something that we do every day….whether going to a “destination race” an old favorite home town run, or just the Wednesday night training run with the reliable folks of the running group. Once you reach one “destination”, doesn’t the next one appear right away? In a sense, I guess, what I’m really saying is: We never reach the destination. Everything is journey.

    Life is the adventures we take. Enjoy the ride.

    Cheers!

    1. Great thoughts!! Part 2 will talk more about mile 18 and musings about the destination.

      I love how you say the destination is constantly changing… you are completely right.

      And to answer your rhetorical questions, yes to all three. I am from Williamson, so my “home race” is very close to my heart. Stupidly, yes, I did seek to run a marathon, but, as your third question asks, it’s most always about the adventure and new friends for me.

      Your words are wonderful, and I’ll be adding you to my blog roll! Thanks for stopping by; can’t wait to meet up with you again sometime in the virtual world or at an actual race!

      1. Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed reading it. I actually made a whole post about that response on my blog… Because I felt it was a good thought too… obviously… Also, full disclosure: I did a couple of pretty awesome “adventure” type run things this weekend, and I don’t know where to start, but I needed something to post! I hope you don’t mind. Thank you. Great job on the race. We had (almost) perfect weather for it (It got a bit hot toward the end…)!

        Take care! Enjoy the ride!

  2. This post was spot on..I am struggling with big family health issues right now and ran the H/M this past weekend. You are exactly right in your description. I imagine we were blessed beyond belief with that amazing weather. The views took my breath away…so many shades of green. And then to have such amazing volunteers and support in the town, just a top notch experience.

    1. Thanks for the comments, Sheila! So sorry to hear about your family health problems, but so glad you stole away from them for a moment to run HM. Please know that you are always welcome back to Williamson any time you need an escape. :) Keep running and keep enjoying your journey.

  3. I really need to journey up the Blackberry Mountain side of this race. I love reading your blog Meg. Life is definately a journey, one that we are on everyday of our life no matter what age. This year was special for me because so many of my family members took part, my big Sis ran the River Road with me, wow can she run a mountain, that same mountain that as young girls we ran, walked, skate boarded and would sleighride down. Now as women we were running up one side and down the other talking and laughing about old times. My baby Sis ran the 5k and my little nephew ran the 100 yard dash. My mom, sisters, husband, brother-in-law and sons waited and cheered us on to the finish line. Having grown up in the area we ran made it more special, seeing old familiar faces along our way was awesome, hearing our family cheer us on at the finish line was awesome but most of all just being part of our community and seeing everyone come together for one day was the best feeling ever. Life is about the journey and I feel sometimes mine has just begun.

    1. Terry,
      Call me a softie but I just teared up a bit when you talked about your family. Seeing your family cheer you on to the finish somewhat validates our sometimes crazy ideas… like running a half. No matter how crazy we might be, it’s so good to know our families will continue to support us!

      Thanks for being you!

  4. AS USUAL, you are spot on! THE journey is THE most important thing. As I mature (much better synonym for age), I realize with each passing day that it is the journey that matters. In life, the destination, eventually, is heaven. Although I pray that I may some day arrive at that destination, it is the journey that I must savor. With each passing hour, day, month and year (each passing more and more quickly all the time) I “try” to enjoy/savor/appreciate the journey. As difficult as it may be sometimes, life (the journey) is meant to be “ran” (pun intended). Your post has inspired me to look around me as I run this race, life.