Lately, I've found myself taking the longer route home.
It's longer by a minute or so, and goes through a residential neighborhood with large trees that hover above the road, hanging their leaves in a makeshift canopy. I take a turn around a stone wall with foliage growing between the gaps in the stones. The houses in the area have an aesthetic that reminds me of my childhood home, evoking calm and comfort.
This sounds idyllic, and yet until recently, I had been taking the faster route home because of my love of efficiency. This route takes me through a more commercial area on a tight road where I have to be cautiously careful to drive within the lanes. I make a turn near a gas station, having to smell the fumes of gasoline as I drive by.
There's a stark difference in scenery when I choose destination over the journey, but a part of me just wants to get home sooner to relax in a place I find calm and comfortable. Sound familiar?
I recently read a line in a novel that pointed out another approach:
"It is not the destination that matters, but how one arrives there."
In a more direct way, it echoes the famous quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson:
"Life is a journey, not a destination"
When I am in destination mode, "there" is more important than "getting there." But even after I walk in the door, oftentimes I'm still prioritizing speed. I'm ready to get out of my work clothes, start making dinner, plan my evening, do some chores, and anything else that gets me "there."
It takes a while till my home environment slowly seeps into my bones and ushers in the relaxation I so thoroughly need.
Knowing that the need for efficiency is still in my system, I sometimes meditate when I get home or listen to music I find soothing, or just lie in bed for 10 minutes. All are techniques that work, and all are coping mechanisms that avoid the root of the problem - my belief that the destination is more important than the journey.
When I'm in journey mode though:
I'm just enjoying the process of getting there.
I still want to get home, but not at the expense of enjoying the journey. I might be five, or even ten minutes late, but what difference does that make in the scheme of things if I walk in more relaxed, happy, easy-going? Isn't that why I was doing all those relaxation techniques when I got home anyway?
Choosing journey over destination becomes an attitude.
In the summer, I favor the journey most of the time. In the winter, when both roads are equally dreary, and a warm home is calling to me, I find myself taking the faster route. But, when I think about it, the quality is embedded in the shorter amount of time it takes me to arrive. The journey still matters.
Turns out the more commercial route has an overhang of beautiful lights along the way, so it serves as a replacement for the tree canopy above the cars!
Which route do you choose more often? Destination or journey?
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