Inner travel is tough.
Are we there yet?
This exit looks interesting. Can we stop here?
Are we there yet? How much longer?
When we’re making life changes, we just want to get to the destination. We want to hurry up and be rewarded—and the sooner the better.
But often we’re distracted by detours. As we’re putting in the work toward change, this distraction or that comes up, and we find ourselves on a different path, perhaps delaying our change for a while longer.
And some of those detours become part of our path, perhaps not clearly marked out on our life plan but certainly the right choice for us at the right time.
I think we’re under the impression that inner travel is like a road trip. Want inner peace? You just go from Point A to Point B, and sure, maybe there will be a couple stops along the way. Want to work on healing that childhood pain? Here’s a map, if you’ll just follow the clearly outlined path. Have some anger issues? I have a trail that will serve that purpose if you just follow these directions. It won’t take long now.
But inner travel isn’t a road trip. We don’t ever get to our destination. We find ourselves arriving at points along the way, and we certainly keep moving forward. But we’re never “there.” We don’t just arrive, and say, “Oh, look, we’re done now. There’s no longer a need to work on anything. Hello, inner peace!”
A friend of mine compared our work on ourselves to an onion. We have layers and layers to peel back to do the work that needs to be done, and it may take time to get through all those layers. In the same way, when we travel inward to change ourselves, we’re not just going to get there in a certain amount of time. We’ll have setbacks and other work to do along the way.
I just recently got back from a short road trip, and it made me think of my journey toward improving my life. How I’ve been trying to go deeper and challenge myself to be more authentic, more vulnerable and generally more courageous in the way I choose to live my life. And I had a second where I saw my inner journey as mirroring my outer one, and it made me look at it in a new way.
We’re always told that it’s the journey and not the destination that matters, but most of us don’t really believe that. We’re so busy striving for our destinations that the journey becomes something we rush through, counting down the hours and minutes until we get to where we’re going. The weekend. Our vacation. A special event on the horizon.
We’re missing the journey. We’re missing the beauty of the every day moments because we’re rushing them to get to the next. And I realized that if life is going to be like one of my road trips, if my inner travel is going to mirror my outer travel, then I’m looking at everything wrong. Because when I go on a road trip, I enjoy a detour. I take my time. Sure, I have a destination in mind, but I’ll also deviate off of that plan for something interesting or beautiful or rare. I take my time and enjoy the journey, cherishing the moments because I don’t often get the opportunity to travel, and I love it so!
And that’s when I realized that my inner journey should be the same. Sure, I have a destination in mind, but it’s not about that destination. It’s about the experience along the way. I take my time. I enjoy the detour. I cherish the moments because this travel is special, too. And I learn to love this inner travel, too, rather than asking Are we there yet? every five minutes. And I know that inner travel is just the journey because there’s not one single destination along the way. There are so many destinations, and I will keep arriving.
Today, I arrived at this destination: thinking about how my inner travel might better mirror my outer travel.
Today, I will cherish the small moments because it’s the journey that is significant.
No, we’re not there yet. And that’s fine by me.
Author: Crystal Jackson
Image: ML van dam/Unsplash
Editors: Emily Bartran; Renée Picard