One of the multitude of mysterious and marvelous impressions from that trip has stayed with me in a way that nothing else has—and it’s the powerful reminder that the journey is as important as the destination. Indeed, that the journey is sometimes even more important than the destination. It was cloudy and overcast when we reached the Great Wall. As we climbed higher and farther along the wall into the mountains, we found ourselves walking in the clouds themselves, unable to really see much beyond the grey-green rolling hills just surrounding the wall itself. At first, we were terribly disappointed, raging at the sky and wishing for the sun to break through so we could see the vistas and the land beyond. And as we raged, we started to fairly race to the next tower on the wall, to see if, just maybe, we’d get a better view. And it was then that I stopped us. Just stopped us so we could listen and look around and realize the magnificence of what we were actually doing, of where we were actually walking and standing, of the history, of the moment. We stopped in order to take mental and physical note of the journey itself. It seemed critical then to put aside the “when will we get there” in order to celebrate the “here we are.” And in doing so, we could rejoice in all that had transpired to bring us to that remarkable and special place—to capture the power of all that we’d done and all that the universe had allowed over many years to bring us to where we were right then. No less. No more. And just perfect.
So, we didn’t see the expansive views of mountains and unending wall we thought we’d see; that particular gift, for whatever reason, remained hidden. But the gifts we were given were, I think, far greater in depth and beauty – the gift of the knowledge that we had achieved something magnificent without even recognizing it; the gift of the knowledge that in experiencing exactly what we experienced, our lives were forever changed; the gift of being able to stop and know the now; and the gift of the next “what if” – what if we are able to come back to this place someday and on that day the sun might be shining?
And so it is with our lives and our storytelling. And so it can be with our health and our relationships. Sometimes it’s overwhelmingly vital for our souls and our selves to pay attention to the journey, to appreciate the efforts and the achievements, to allow the clouds to hide secrets not yet meant to be revealed. It seems to me if we’re too intent on only reaching our destination we lose a sense of magic and mystery. For it is by knowing where we are on our journey and letting ourselves be at ease with the unexpected that we will make our way to brilliant and rich destinations –and not necessarily the ones to which we thought we were always headed. How exciting it is to just think...what's beyond the great wall?
(c) emma d dryden, drydenbks llc