The Journey not the Destination

I am reading my 32nd book of the year. A Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling. I am not loving it. It is filled with so many characters I need a road map to keep them straight. There is one thread in this storyline that I love and that is why I am still reading this book. I anticipate the journey for this character will be insightful.

The last book I read, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce was a lovely read. It is one of those kinds of books that you think about after it is finished because it makes more sense knowing the ending, then you must think about his journey in a different light. Maybe it has to do with where I am at this point in my life, but the thought of walking a pilgrimage is very appealing to me.

My brother-in-law did the El Camino Santiago over a 6 week period a couple of years ago. He walked a marathon a day and sometimes farther. By the time he was finished, he had disposed of most of his contents of his backpack to make the journey lighter. This appears to be a common theme amongst these journeys, the need or desire to rid yourself of extra baggage. This is obviously a metaphor for the pilgrims lives too.

From the different journeys I read about, doing something hard or taxing on your body accomplishes  different things,

  1. Makes you realize how strong you are and it is the mental strength that pulls you through.
  2. It gives you time to reflect and work through relationship issues that you have control over. Self-reflection is always a good thing.
  3. Gives you direction for your future and helps you decided what is important in your life. This gives you a good idea what you can live without.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed was another pilgrimage where she discarded contents from her bag and learned she could do more with less. This wasn’t just about the contents in her bag, it had more to do with the people and events in her life. She was a train wreck waiting to happen.

When I trained for my first half marathon, the accomplishment of it was overshadowed by the finish and “what next”. I was not prepared for the feeling of loss. There is documented evidence that describes depression after finishing a marathon. I think this is why people get so addicted to running so many. It keeps a mental focus for the long term instead of a one and done kind of deal. It took me a long time to get over it and finding a new athletic goal was the key to recovery.

The same can be said for your everyday life. Finding goals and attaining them are huge in your mental focus and strength. Having situations change and realizing the goal needs to be changed can be devastating. Letting things go along the way to lighten the load can make a big difference in the outcome. Sometimes its the support of friends and family that take part of the load for you. Having support is huge. Harold found it in his wife, Cheryl found it in letters that came at postoffice stops, and my brother-in-law found it with family and friends he made along the way.

The trick is knowing what to get rid of and trusting things will be okay with out the stuff.


6 thoughts on “The Journey not the Destination

  1. Interesting. I never thought about letting go of material things while on a journey. I certainly did that with my divorce – I took only my computer and my clothes. It was freeing. A sense of stripping down to the essence. I am running my first marathon in a few weeks. I hope I don’t feel the urge to leave things behind then since I won’t have much more than my clothes! 🙂

    1. Interesting that you say that, the NY Marathon has to clean up tons of jackets and shirts that have been discarded as the runners progress through the course. My advice for you is to dress in layers 😉

      As for your discarding items while on a journey…yours was a journey too, just a different sort 🙂

  2. I’ve been wondering about The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry so it’s good to hear you liked it – I’ll have to add it to my list. That’s great that you’ve read 32 already! I’ve only read about half as much so it’s a good thing I set my goal for the year a little lower with 30 books (though I may not even reach that either)! This year has just been too crazy.

    1. I don’t think I’ll reach 50, but I’m way ahead of last years tally!! Harold Fry was nominated for a booker prize. I heard the local bookstore owner talk about it and I usually agree with her assessments. In all honestly, it’s the ending that makes the whole books special. 🙂

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