Not the destination, but the journey

Hiking the trail to Machu PicchuIsn’t it interesting how one can hear a phrase or a saying over and over – or even see it made into a poster with a glorious scene behind the words – and think we get it? “Yeh, yeh.” We dismiss it, and go on. Minimal impact.

[I put that yeh, yeh in quotes and smile when I write it because I can clearly hear my, then 11-month old, grandson Henry nonchalantly repeating that phrase throughout his day as he maneuvered from one area of investigation to another. He had been walking for about two weeks at that time, and – despite multiple episodes of dropping onto his little cushioned butt – the challenge of arriving at delicious locations at will had become second nature. It was Thanksgiving, and we were all staying at a beautiful home in Boulder that was designed with a completely open floor plan offering a multitude of excursions for Henry while still within my hearing range. He was not really babbling – but would simply call out “yeh, yeh!” Since he is my first grandchild, I of course assigned divine knowing to his exclamations. He was clearly saying: “I already know all this mundane stuff guys” – as he verbally checked it all off the list of remembering.]

Now let’s get back to the original phrase I wanted you to consider. You have probably even used it yourself at some perfect moment. 


You got this – right? Well I thought I knew it, until I LIVED it – over an unforgettable week a few years ago. My son and his wife (Henry’s parents), and my husband and I hiked the Inca Trail into the back of Machu Picchu. It was just the four of us with our local guide and his staff. Mount Veronica was one of a multitude of spectacular snow-topped beauties we met along the way. We crossed paths with the same young couple a few times – otherwise, no people. Sweet solitude.  Peaks, valleys, ancient hand-carved steps, flowers, birds, a few grazing burros, creeks, the occasional butterflies, and the vast blue sky – these were our companions. The rhythmic cadence of our boots when the trail ran along ridge tops or the irregular clomping as we sought our footing on the unpredictable rocks – these were the sounds. 

The air was thin over Dead Woman’s pass. The moss under the outcroppings was cool and moist. The night sky was spectacular when we camped above the clouds and the moon and stars reflected off those mountains. We danced in that celestial light – feeling part of that world which is marvelous and raw. We spoke reverently. We went off trail to meditate – to join in at even a deeper level. The Sun Gate awaited us on that last day. Tiny little awkward steps designed to throw you backwards to your death led up to our arrival at the world destination Machu Picchu.

Immediately on the other side of the gate were tourists, hundreds of them, seemed like thousands of them – in large groups, from all nationalities, all with cameras, sunglasses, funny hats and designer clothing. They were talking nonstop – all together and all separately. Many on cell phones shouting into the machines, “Hey Mom, I’m in Machu Picchu.” The force of the noise, the irregularity of their movements, the simple presence of all of them was overwhelming. We hung back against the wall. Too stunned by the humanity to be able to honor the sacredness of the location.

IT IS NOT THE DESTINATION. No siree!!!!! Our desire to connect with the history, the culture – our hopes of honoring the wisdom and intellect of their ancestors – was achieved ON THE JOURNEY, not at the destination. And so it is with all of life. It is who you are right now in this moment – in this place in time where you are breathing. The taught and perpetuated emphasis on getting to the future – in a bigger house, in a better job, in a perfect relationship, in any environment where you feel you have arrived – is robbing you of the abundance of NOW. That destination out there only exists in your mind. 

The only thing that exists, really, is now. How centered can you stay when you decide you have to hurry? Do you celebrate the chaos of the morning ballet of getting up and getting going? Are you grateful for the warmth of the water on your skin? Do you pause to bask in the steam of your morning drink? Does the fact that you can walk register its glory with you? Free will is amazing. So many ways to BE. So many ways to connect with what IS. So many choices in how to experience all the gifts – big and small.

One of my teachers once asked what it was I wanted to do with this life – and I eagerly replied: pay off my debts, see that my children are settled and safe, and go somewhere where I can have the time to meditate all day – and be in that expansive Bliss. He paused before replying and a little smile curved his lips: You can live in that Bliss WHILE you complete those chosen tasks.

What a clear message. Now. Live Now with the fullness available. Tune in to the abundance of each moment. FEEL the abundance of what IS, right now. Sure there are bills to pay, and people to see and things to do. KNOW that while you are DOING all that you do, you can BE in the JOY available to you. By quieting your mind, and letting go of the need to be in control of the entire universe, you can connect to the wondrous expansive celebration of NOW. It takes some shifting and some practice, but your sights can settle back from the DESTINATION into the divine moments of the JOURNEY.

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