It’s the end of the journey through another year, December in the northern hemisphere where I live. I love this month not for the holiday lights, shorter days and colder weather, but because things slow down for once. Largely thanks to the cluster of December holidays, the pace lets up, and there is time, space, and breathing room to reflect. Mmmmm . . . just savor how good that feels. Take a deep breath, let it out. Exhale. Doesn’t that feel wonderful?
Yet no sooner do we reflect on the past year, or our entire lives to date, than we fast forward to what we will do next, do differently, or both. We can’t help but move from reflection to dreaming and intending for the future.
Intention has been a growing focus in my life this year and is a paramount theme for 2011. And it’s not just me – the concept of living with intention seems to be popping up all around me, and I say it’s about time. Especially with science catching up to spirituality, we’re learning more all the time about the power of intention – even before it leads to action – to really and truly move the physical universe. (If you’re curious for more on that – especially the science piece – don’t miss what Lynne McTaggart is doing at The Intention Experiment. This ain’t hocus, people).
One thing’s for sure on this journey: you can set the course, or you can let the winds blow you where they may. You can either be intentional about what you want and where you’re going, or you can leave it all to chance (which pretty much means the intentions of others rather than your own will chart your course). Only you can decide if you’ll live with intention and how intentional you’ll be. Only you can decide if you’ll be the architect of your own life, or hand it over to another builder.
Still, whether you pop out of bed straight into a conscious intention exercise for the day, or take a more laid-back approach to your intention-setting and seeking, one of the most important things to remember about the journey is this: it’s never done. Setting intentions and achieving them can create a very goal-focused, accomplishment-oriented mindset, one in which we strive for an ideal. And this in itself is perhaps one of the biggest beginning seeker’s pitfalls, but entirely necessary nonetheless. If it’s a shortcoming, it’s fueled by the innocence of youth and ambition. More seasoned travelers know differently. As my own journey grows ever-longer, I savor the wisdom and lessons like this that come only with age.
As we dream and grow, we end up envisioning an ideal life, usually as some sort of Utopian static reality in which things never go out of whack, there are no setbacks, and our every desire manifests as soon as it is conceived. Maybe this fantasy is life on your private island surrounded by staff existing to serve your every whim and unlimited resources, maybe it’s a Martha Stewart-esque perfect home and family, or maybe it’s a beach bum paradise in which you surf every day before you enjoying a beer and a grilled fish dinner on the beach. It doesn’t really matter – the point is, if you do attain it, you’ll never actually live it for long.
You’ll inevitably find that the more intentions you create and fulfill, the more you’ll desire. And that’s the point: the journey, the ascents and descents, longings, passion and aspirations are the destination. Stop thinking in terms of being done. Stop shooting for your final arrival. Know that there isn’t one, there’s just more to the journey, new segments that will begin even if and when you do achieve your dream life. You are an ever-changing, growth-seeking being, and you’re supposed to be.
Your desire is your fuel. If it’s strong even when the going gets tough, that’s a sign you really want what you desire. If you find it flagging when the going gets tough, that’s a sign too, perhaps to take a different tack or pursue a different desire. But the desire for living, and expanding, and dreaming never ends. Dream, yes, but if you have yet to achieve your greatest dreams, know this: when you do achieve them, you won’t just stop and live happily ever after in an idyllic cocoon. You’ll go on to dream new dreams.
As I enjoy this season of reflection and give myself the gift of time and space to think about my next leg of the journey, I encourage you to do the same. And if you subscribe to it, I invite you to dismantle the concept of the destination as a single point in your life, and open yourself to seeing the destinations as many and the journey itself as the goal. When you do, you’ll live more adventurously, more curiously, and with more wonder and amazement than you ever thought possible
How does seeing the journey as the destination change what you want from life? And what do you intend for your next leg of the trip?