We’ve all heard the expression, “It’s the journey, not the destination that counts.” I think it was Emerson and maybe Aerosmith who first said it.
I’m here to take issue with that piece of wisdom. I’m here to stick up for the red-haired, ugly step-sister called “Destination” because she does count. In fact, she counts just as much as that hussy, “Journey.”
Let me explain. My 10 year old daughter spent the past six months preparing for a piano competition that was to occur last Saturday. Six months is like six years in 10 year old time. On Friday she came home from school sick. By Saturday she had a raging fever of 103.5. There was no way in hell she could perform – she could barely stand up. She has not had a sick day all year, and it killed me that it just happened to fall on the day of this event. All of her hard work, down the toilet.
As she lay on the couch in the throes of chills so bad they made her teeth chatter, she told me, “All of that practicing, all of that time, it was just wasted.” Hearing this made me cringe. On some level I knew it wasn’t wasted time, but on another level, I knew what it meant to have something by which to measure hard work. I understood the need to take all of that time, effort and energy and to apply it to an end result.
You see Emma is not one of these kids who is involved in every activity from finger painting to monkey bar competitions. At this point in her life, the only stuff she does out side of school is play the piano. Piano is to her what running is to me. It fills her up. It gives her something to work for. It is a way for her to measure her growth. It makes her a better person. She had put everything into this day.
I had to come up with a response to her and I had to do it quick. Because moms just want to make things better and because I like to relate all things back to me, I told her my own sob story.
“Emma, do you remember over a year ago when I spent all that time training for the Denver Rock and Roll Marathon? No? Well, exactly 8 days before the race, I got hurt. Not the kind of hurt where you sit on an ice pack and take a couple of days off, but the kind of hurt where you are out of the game for weeks, where you are on crutches. I had to drop out of the race. It killed me.”
“I remember at first thinking that all of my training was a waste. All of those miles, for what? But, then I realized that even though I couldn’t race, my efforts had still made me tougher. I had still spent time doing something I loved and getting stronger and better at it. You see, it’s not always about the end result. It’s about what you learn along the way. You are disappointed and that is okay. But, you realize there will be other races, other piano events. You make peace with it.”
I looked over at her – was she buying it? She looked slightly relieved. Phew.
I knew this story somehow made her feel better, which was my goal. But, in my mind I felt kind of like a liar. Why? Because I actually do believe that it is as much about the journey as it is about the destination. Yes, the journey is invaluable – it is infinitely important. Without the journey, we learn nothing, we don’t grow. But, without the ability to apply all of our efforts to that one end climax, we never get to measure what the journey has done for us. We never get to put the exclamation mark on the end of the sentence and say, “Hey I did that!”
I mean, really, would you go through all that foreplay if you didn’t think you were going to have the orgasm? That is the age-old question that the ancients ask themselves everyday. I think there is a Lao Tzu quote about it. “He who do foreplay, have orgasm!”
Let’s get real. In all of this talk about the damn journey and what we learn from it, let’s not pretend that the destination does not matter too. Because it does and it should. It matters that your hard work is recognized. It matters that you train for four months and get to cross the finish line. It matters that you throw up and eat pickles with peanut butter and nine months later have a baby. Can’t we learn along the way, but still have the destination be available to us? Why does it have to be one or the other?
It’s not like I’m going to go out and get a bumper sticker that says, “F*ck the journey, it’s all about the destination,” (I’d get beat up in Boulder if I did that), but I think you know what I mean. Having the accomplishment as a notch on your belt counts too, so give Destination the credit she deserves.
Update: Emma’s piano teacher just called – so many kids were sick they are going to allow them to play their pieces and do their sight reading and theory tests for the judge on Friday. So she gets a rain date after all!