This beautiful video clip below, narrated by (one of my all time favs) philosopher Alan Watts, explores the flaw in the concept of life being a journey.
Although I still use the word journey now and then in my sessions and writing, I may now start to replace it with something even more accurate because the words we speak (out loud or in our own heads) and what they represent for us, has such a powerful effect on our experience. Just go to any birthing room and witness the reaction that one unthoughtful word can have on a woman in labour, or conversely watch the soothing effect that a single perfect word can produce!
So, what does this video and Life not being a journey have to do with wellbeing?
It’s like when my son asks me when our bush walks start dragging on for him and he’s running out of steam, ‘When will we get to our destiny, Mum?’, (and no that’s not a typo, he confuses ‘destination’ with ‘destiny’ and I kind of love it so I don’t pull him up).
So I explain to him that as soon as we get to our ‘destiny’, we’ll have a new one again anyway…so he’s better off letting time and tiredness go and just enjoying the scenery.
‘Arriving at’ the Wellbeing we’re after is much the same.
There’s always greater wellbeing to experience, always a new destination to arrive at, so it’s natural and good to keep desiring more. But, if this more becomes the focus, and if as a result our present moment experience becomes just a means to get to somewhere in the future, then we are missing the whole point of life, which is to enjoy the experience.
So, maybe we could replace the word ‘journey’ with ‘experience’. Or even ‘play’ or ‘being’.
Because when we start to reframe our selves and our lives by letting go of the concept of ‘doing’ things along a horizontal journey of time, and instead move into a more embodied experience of being present in each ‘now’ moment with an integrated past and future, then the ‘attainment’ of wellbeing becomes something entirely different.
Now, wellbeing becomes the inevitable result of our choice to fully enjoy life, rather than the goal itself.
In the clip below, which I hope will inspire you as it has me, Alan Watts talks about the whole point of any musical composition or dance being the beauty of the entire performance and not where it’s all heading toward! This is a really helpful metaphor to keep in mind when considering where we are placing our emphasis in our own lives…Is our emphasis and awareness on the future ending or ‘tomorrow’ (which never comes by the way!), or are we actually enjoying our own composition which can only ever fully be enjoyed here and now?
Unlike listening to music or watching a dance, we can’t experience our lives if we’re outside looking in….we need to be in our life’s composition to reap the benefits and wellbeing that a fully-lived life offers.
Our destination…or destiny as my son would say…is unclear, elusive and really not the point!
And like I’ve said before, Wellbeing isn’t the point either.
Rapturous Joy is.
Full delicious engagement is.
Unbridled enthusiasm is.
Beautiful moments are.
Like in movies such as Paper planes (watch it!), where the main character decides to fly a ‘beautiful’ race instead of the fastest one, and ‘Pele’ (watch that one too!), where the legendary Brazilian soccer player wins the first world cup for Brazil by encouraging his team to play beautifully in the true Brazilian way, rather than how the outside world thinks they should, when we live our own lives beautifully, then either way, we win.
And what’s winning?
It’s living a beautiful life. One that clearly and brilliantly reflects our real selves, our true intentions, our full capabilities, and our deepest desires and values.
Wellbeing and all the things it offers such as physical vitality, emotional balance, mental clarity and spiritual connection, all assume their rightful place as natural byproducts when we make living authentically and beautifully our number one priority.
As we begin doing that and remember how to be present, to play, and to enjoy life’s simple pleasures, then life ceases to be a ‘journey’ and becomes instead a dance, a song, and a series of beautiful moments that we will be way too engaged and delighted with to ever have the time or desire to stop and ask ‘where are we going?’. We will just know that ‘here’ and ‘now’ is all there is, all there ever was, and all there ever will be….and we will dance on.
So a more helpful question than, ‘How do I get to wellbeing and all that I desire?’, is perhaps, ‘Where am I in relation to this present moment….which is where all those experiences are?’.
I hope you enjoy this video, and if you want to explore Mindfulness a little further in a session with me jump onto the contact page and send me through an email, I’d love to hear from you.