The reading in one of the literature meetings I sat in on prompted several to share on "It's the journey, not the destination." I've probably said it myself, but do I truly believe it? Sometimes the destination is the focus - the degree, the mortgage, the wedding, the retirement date. But then what? The events are merely markers, but sometimes my focus on the marker makes the before and after anti-climatic. A friend once shared how everyone kept telling him that his wedding would be the happiest day of his life. "God, I hope not!" he said, "Is it all downhill from there?"
If I (mostly) believe in the journey vs the destination, why do I keep torturing myself with "Life will get better/calmer/back to normal when... (fill in the blank)" keeping me in a vague dissatisfaction with the here and now, no matter how awesome the day. It's a Catch-22. I look forward to an event, yet imagine life after as being somehow more settled. I suppose there is some accuracy to that - preparing for a big trip is different than doing laundry once back home. Married life is way more ordinary than the flurry of wedding planning. And, when I live in "it will be calmer when..." I'm perhaps numbing myself to both the high and low points of the journey, as well as the inevitable plateaus. I too often see the destination as a place to take a breath before moving on to the next thing. Because there is always a next thing, whether of my choosing or the universe's.
These last few years, what I've really wanted was time and space - to exhale, to do the little (& big) projects on my list, to spend time with friends in the woods or on the bike, to do more than mere maintenance on weekends. And now I have it. I've already felt a shift in focus, but still notice the familiar time urgency knocking at the door. I will assume this is part of the transition from work life to retirement, a chance to pay attention, to inventory.
The hard work of Steps 6 & 7, in long term recovery, means looking at those characteristics that have become so habitual as to feel like "me," so entrenched as to make me believe my thoughts. Can I pause when agitated or doubtful when agitated is so familiar that I don't always recognize it? Can I release self-judgement and simply observe and label the emotion?
I'm told that meditation can help and listened intently this morning in a meeting on the topic. After sharing my usual "I'm not very good at it" line, I realized, in a "duh!" moment, that the gifts of meditation don't generally come in the actual sitting, but in development of the spiritual muscle that allows me to take a step back from my thoughts during non-meditating time. Even knowing better, I find myself thinking that I should be moving closer to nirvana, now that I've sat in meditation for over 90 days. Come on, people! Where's my enlightenment? Where's my out-of-body experience? One more time, I'm looking for the high, the destination. Breathing...breathing into the journey.
I am able to chuckle at the presumption I'd be through this transition, a mere two and a half weeks into my new way of being. I can still hear my dad's voice yelling,"Slow down, Jeanine!" as I ran from the bathroom to the in-process street ball game, while pulling up my pants, not wanting to miss anything. I may always be a busy-bee, job or no job, destination or journey. A goal is to make that a choice, not an unconscious urge. One day at a time. One day at a time.
Is it the journey or the destination that most often gets your attention? If you meditate, what benefits do you experience, either when sitting or after? What part of the internal or external journey is your focus this week?
Note that in lieu of the International Conference, there will be a virtual offering during the month of July. For details go to aa.org
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