The journey is more important than the destination

My four-year-old cousin and I play quite a few games together when I visit from college. He is really quite a smart little guy, so most of the time I try hard to beat him at his games – and usually do. He’s quite a sore loser, so I’ve taken it upon myself to give him lots of practice.

Yesterday we were playing Rummikub, by his own rules, of course. It was very much like Calvinball in many ways, for those who know how Calvinball is played. Ben would dump all the tiles out on the floor and tell me we could choose whatever tiles we liked. Then, once our racks were full, we began to play out our tiles a few at a time – the only real rule being that the tiles had to connect numerically with others in runs. But if one of us wasn’t able to play, he could easily pull a tile from the large pile, clearly visible to all.

In many ways, it was a very relaxing experience. Without any rules, clear objectives, or competition, the focus took a complete change. Instead of worrying about what we were trying to do or a point we were trying to reach, the entire enjoyment of the game came simply from the experience – just from playing. I think there’s something that needs to be learned from this kind of attitude – one where the journey is more important than the destination.

I have seen that phrase quoted often, but have never really understood it. Of course the destination is more important than the journey! Why bother going somewhere if you don’t care to get there? All that I could think of was the long trips in the mountains of Pakistan, where your bottom would ache for hours on end, and where the destination was pure relief – a chance to lie on your front and give your sore bottom a much-needed rest.

I think a great deal of our North American, or perhaps human, culture moves away from this kind of thinking. We focus so much on objectives and gain, that sometimes we forget to enjoy the moment. We get lost in the effort to go somewhere that we forget to enjoy here and now. We will strain so hard towards the peak that we forget to enjoy the climb and smell the flowers.