Friday, May 21, 2010

Enjoying journey as important as reaching destination

Let us start with a story. An athlete had been practicing very hard for a long time for a big competition. As the competition was coming closer, He was very much stressed and nervous about his performance in the competition and was not able to concentrate properly on his practice. So, one day his coach told him to accompany him on a hiking trip to the top of a mountain where he wanted to find a valuable thing. They both started early next morning. They reached the top of the mountain in a hot afternoon after a tough, long journey, both tired and exhausted. Athlete was waiting eagerly for the surprise which his coach wanted to show him. After waiting for a while, he could not hold on to his patience and asked what the thing we came here for was. The coach smiled and pointed towards a random, very ordinary red stone and said that I came here to find this stone. Being puzzled by his coach's answer, athlete asked what is so important in this stone that you traveled such a long and tiring path to get it. In response, the coach asked him whether you enjoyed the journey to reach here. Athlete said, I do not remember much about the journey. My main target was to reach the final destination, so I was thinking only about that all along the path.

The point coach wanted to make is very clear. We keep on working to achieve things at every point of our life. We are driven many times just by the curiosity to reach that state, but most of the times even unaware of the final destination we want to reach. We are so much consumed in our pursuit to achieve the target that we no longer care about our current state. We need to ask ourselves few very basic and important questions: what is my state during the journey to reach the final destination? Am I happy or unhappy? Am I enjoying it or it has just become a pain for me which I have to go through in order to achieve my target? If an athlete can't feel and enjoy his competition and ultimate win over opposing wind, the bending body on the curves of the track, the ultimate joy to see the race end; the demanding and tiring work can simply become a burden for him. Because, it's the feeling of giving your 100% and honesty which gives the ultimate satisfaction. We believe it's the end which ultimately matters. But that's not very fulfilling in the long run.

Another issue is the temporary nature of these successful/unsuccessful moments. For example, when a student prepares for IIT, it is the most important thing he wants to achieve in his life at that point of time. How long does he enjoy his success? 1 week probably after a long, hard journey of 2 years and soon he starts worrying about good grades, a good job or good university and this continues. So another question we need to ask ourselves is, whether this temporary state is happiness or happiness is something different, which I desire for. In my opinion, what we perceive as happiness currently and work for is just a temporary charged, excited state; it is not my neutral state. If I succeed, I am positively excited and we confuse it with happiness. On the other hand, if I don't succeed, I am negatively excited and we confuse it with unhappiness. Happiness is a continuous desire which we need to verify. We don't want it in bits and pieces; our desire for happiness is continuous. Whatever we are doing is ultimately to fulfill our desire of happiness. Success or failure does matter, but it's the journey to these moments where we spend our most of the time. Living harmoniously at every level of being during this journey is equally or even more crucial to be happy. Therefore, enjoying the journey is as important as reaching the final destination.