photo: Francesca Dioni on flickr

photo: Francesca Dioni on flickr

If you have any interest in spiritual growth, or even if you don’t, you’ve probably heard this a million times:

“Life is a journey, not a destination.โ€

I always thought this quote came from the people who made posters in the 1970’s. You know the ones.

There’s a picture of a forest with a wide dirt path winding into the distance. And some variation ofย the “journey/destination” quote is stamped on the bottom of the poster in a flowy, encouraging font.

Like this:

life is a jouney done

Or this:

another journey done again

Or maybe the makers of the poster went cowboy-style:

cowboy journey done

As it turns out, the origin of the quote is Ralph Waldo Emerson.

I’m not sure how he would feel about the cowboy version of his sentiment. He’d probably dig it.

I also wonder how Ralph would feel about the excessive enthusiastic recycling of his words. Perhaps he’d dig that too. Perhaps not.

After all, it was Emerson who said:

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

So I’m thinking Emerson might appreciate a new metaphor for life’s journey. One that has not been trampled upon ad nauseum more than once by spiritual teachers and makers of inspirational posters.

Check it out:

The other day, I was listening to a CD of a session with one of my favorite spiritual teachers, Abe (aka Abraham Hicks). They were talking about this whole “life is a journey” thing, and how we humans need to let go of being in such a hurry to reach our destinations.

As they were saying this, I realized that this journey metaphor doesn’t always work for me. At least, not as far as encouraging me to enjoy the moment.

Here’s the thing: I love getting things done. I experience a real sense of satisfaction and accomplishment from completing my tasks โ€“ from reaching the destination.

photo: Paxson Woelber on flickr

photo: Paxson Woelber on flickr

Yes, I understand the whole journey/destination idea. I’m down with what Ralph has to say. But my moments of really, truly sinking into that metaphor are rare.

And then I thought about dancing.

If I’m in the middle of boogying to an awesome song, I’m not in any hurry to finish. Indeed, I’m bummed if someone turns off the music in the middle of the song.

When I’m dancing, I’m not trying to “reach” the end of the dance. Dancing is the destination. If the song is especially funky and the dancing is especially fun, I never want it to end.

photo: Fred Benenson on flickr

photo: Fred Benenson on flickr

See, now that works for me.

I know that “life is a dance” metaphors have also been used. And used. And used.

But not like this:

“Life is about the dance, not the end of the dance where they turn off the music and you have to go sit down and you’re really bummed out.”

Can’t you just see that on inspirational posters everywhere? Or at least in my office?

So, if you’ve heard the “life is journey” line one too many times, remember that you have options!

You can groove with my dancing metaphor. Or you can create your own.

Surfing. Napping. Competitive knitting.

Do not go where the surf/nap/knitting needles may lead, go instead where there is no surf/nap/knitting and leave a trail.”ย 

Or something like that.

photos: Mike Baird, starshaped, and Koshyk on flickr

photos: Mike Baird, starshaped, and Koshyk on flickr

What’s your favorite metaphor for the spiritual path or life in general? Share your comments below!

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