When you get there, the journey will be over

I’ve always been curious about that Broadway show and movie “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” and one of these times I’m going to see it.
But in the meantime, I just keep puzzling over its title.
When you think about it, it is a funny thing what all happens “on the way.” We’re rushing to get somewhere and a minor accident that could have been major reminds us how unimportant all that hurry is.
Or we exercise in the morning with a goal of getting to the end of the trail. Then one day as we walk, we’re overtaken by spring beauty; and suddenly lingering seems more important than moving on.
We head toward our car in a crowded parking lot and briefly meet a friend we haven’t seen for months. Or we go shopping for shoes and end up finding the most beautiful purse ever–on sale.
It’s the old question of which is more important–the destination or the journey.
Take yesterday, for example. My destination was to visit a friend who has just changed her place of residence for health reasons. In my hand I held a pretty spring bouquet of fragrant purple lilacs, gracefully drooping bleeding heart, and old-fashioned paper white narcissus.
But on the way, I got lost in the halls and that’s where I came across a stranger, sitting lonely in her chair. Even though I didn’t know her, I could see exactly what she needed was a little touch of springtime joy so in a burst of boldness, I said, “Would you like to smell my flowers?”
She smelled and beamed, “Lilacs always smell so nice.” And then, I picked off just one little stem.
The bouquet looked as pretty as before, and the stranger was still smiling and sniffing as I went on down the hall.
What happens on the way demands our notice. Because, in fact, what happens on the way is our lives.
A destination, after all, doesn’t have much substance. It’s only the place toward which you’re heading. And when you get there, it no longer will be a destination. Rather, the time will have come to choose a new destination.
The journey, on the other hand, is life. The adventure of getting where you’re going. The fun along the way. The flowers to smell and to share. The kind words to say and to hear. The songs to sing and to write. The gardens to plant. The picnics to plan.
Without question, the most dangerous trap of life is focusing so much on the the destination that we forget to enjoy the journey.
Saving money for your children’s education at the expense of playing games together. Setting out across the country on a long-planned vacation, too hurried to drive 50 miles off the path to see Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Creating the perfect herb garden, working till you drop, but never stopping once to sift the mellow soil through your fingers.
There’s no doubt about it–destinations are incredibly important. Living life without a destination would be like sitting back and enjoying the boat ride, not noticing that you were about to go over Niagara Falls.
But once you’ve chosen your destination, don’t ever waste a single minute of joy and wonder of the journey. Because when you get there, the journey will be over.
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist.

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