Everything is a Journey
You can describe pretty much anything as a journey. A book has a reader journey from the first page to the last. The best advertisements take you on a journey to a place where (the ad man hopes) you end up buying something. Decision making is a journey. Healing is a journey where, with a bit of TLC and chicken soup, broken bones fuse back together, sniffly noses stop running, and aches and pains disappear.
Most journeys have a beginning, a middle and an end. Some don’t – and instead the journey itself is the whole point. In the journey of life it used to be that there was a tried and true treasure map that when followed would take you down a well trodden path from birth, to school, to a job for life, to marriage, a family, retirement, and then, ultimately, golf.
These days there are fewer maps to follow. If you’re lucky enough to earn your qualifications from school or university, the chances of finding that pot of gold at the end of that rainbow in the form of a job for life, are smaller than ever. And even if you do find yourself with a well paying job, the chances are that you and your partner will both have to work in order to support yourselves and your family. You may even have some sort of side project that brings in just a little bit more to help with the rent, or to put away for a rainy day.
There aren’t as many maps as there used to be. The old, well trodden path that everyone used to follow is now overgrown with weeds and shrubs. Nobody walks that way anymore, because the place it used to lead to is a ghost town. The shops are boarded up, the houses are crumbling, and the train doesn’t stop at the station these days.
The institutions that run this old town, though still powerful, are starting to look a bit worn and faded and more than a little unsure of themselves. The banks are confused about cryptocurrencies. The bookshops don’t know what to do about all those authors who are self publishing. The old shopkeepers peer out from behind their boarded-up windows as the Ocado van drives by. Governments are too busy arguing among themselves to realise that nobody’s paying any attention to their eternal filibustering anymore. And they look at their maps and scratch their heads, because it’s not supposed be this way.
Without maps we are faced with a dilemma. Without our magical, reliable yellow-brick road, we face uncertainty. Which way do we turn? The things our parents told us, and which their parents told them, are no longer as useful as they used to be. Go to school. Get a job. Save up. Die rich.
Won’t someone just show us the way?
But maps aren’t the answer to everything. Maps can also constrain us as well as guide us. And they can take us down the wrong path as well as the right one. They command us in our choices, reduce our options, and restrict our freedom. Maps are instruction manuals telling us that if we don’t follow them we’re different. We’re ‘alternative’. That we’re not normal.
But now the maps are turning to dust. The shackles that bind us are rusting and falling apart. With no one telling us which is the best way to go, we have no choice but to find our own way. To cut our own path through the vines and the leaves, to try something new and see what happens. We are free, not just to draw our own map, or to forge our own path, but we are free to enjoy the journey.
There is no normal any more. Alternative is the new status quo. Nothing is constant but change. And now is the time when we need to have the courage to find our what works for us. What resonates inside us, what brings us happiness and joy, what interests us, what can we try next? It’s our time to experiment, to find ourselves, to have faith in ourselves, and to do that thing we were scared of starting, now that we understand it’s scarier not to.
Everything is a journey, but sometimes not knowing where you’re going makes you focus on the journey itself, and not the destination. We never had that luxury before, so let’s relish it while we can. Tomorrow we’ll be somewhere else. It’s time to be brave, to let go, and just do it. It’s time to choose yourself and see what happens.
It’s your journey. Which way are you going?