Why We Journey

backpacker“Life is a Journey” – Overused cliche? Cultural catchphrase? Millennial mantra? This year’s best billboard slogan?…Maybe all of these, but what does it really mean?

I love to look at the way we toss words around – especially ones that if we stop and think about them, can have a huge impact on our lives. “Life is a journey” is one in particular that I hear all the time, used in so many contexts, but I wonder if it has the same meaning for others that it does for me.

The question I keep coming back to is, if our lives really are a journey, then how do we do it? Consciously?

Since the beginning of time, humans have been drawn toward travel, toward moving about, leaving one place to go another place entirely different. Be it for survival, kinship or curiosity, humans have been on the go, but what does physical travel have to do with our lives and how we live them? How is living the same as being on a “journey”?

Let’s begin by considering what happens when we go on a journey, a trip, vacation, a quest — we leave what we know, to experience something new, different, foreign – unfamiliar, something we don’t know. Journeys take us away from who we know ourselves to be.

And what happens when we enter the unknown or have a brand new experience?

It changes us, whether we know it or not.

When we journey, we discover who we can be…

under different, sometimes challenging circumstances,

among strange, beautiful, interesting people,

in unusual and unfamiliar environments.

Among familiar surroundings, most people can accurately predict their behavior and reactions to everyday stimulus. We already know these parts of ourselves. They are mildly interesting on their own, but they become old pretty quick. It’s funny, but people turn to drama and trouble-making to heighten the familiar, not a fair, long-term solution to being bored with yourself.

On a journey, when we encounter the unfamiliar, we can’t interact the same as we do at home; we must form new ways of interacting. And when we do, we find a new version of ourselves, the person we went looking for. The reason we crave that newness is because we want to expand who we are. Journeys can take on any form. Whether it’s a vacation, a new job, promotion or career, a new relationship or partnership, a new aspect or level of a hobby or pastime, a new life role, like parent, or spouse, through these experiences, we challenge ourselves and allow new dimensions of our being to emerge and grow. We want to be surprised by our courage, our resourcefulness, our compassion and our understanding.

A journey has little to do with going from point A to point B. We journey to open the vast door into who we are. It is an adventure in self-discovery. We need to know, not only what is “out there,” but also to know the depths inside of us. Your life is a journey, when, and only when self-discovery is your travelling partner. Otherwise you are simply “staying home,” not a bad thing at times, but it will never satisfy for long. A journey causes us to change, to become more, it expands us and invites submerged parts of our being-ness to the surface. To journey well, you must be willing to invite that kind of change. You must be willing to expand, to see yourself as a much larger part of a constantly growing Universe. We are dying (and living) to know ourselves at this awe-inspiring level.

What are your travel plans for this lifetime?

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