Striving and not striving

At the moment I am going through a difficult patch. Not difficult from the outside but difficult from within. The hardest part about getting what you want is realizing maybe you don’t really want it at all.

People have always told me it is the journey not the destination. And I am truly starting to appreciate that. In my life I have been able to put so much energy, focus and enthusiasm into achieving things, to creating something for myself that was never there before. But often when I am finally on the podium, prize in hand, a sense of discontent appears. The prize isn’t what I thought it was. What looked so great and important from far away is actually dull and uninspiring up close.

It is so hard to realize that so much of life, of what we do, is hustling to make the next jump. The next step, the next evolution. Sometimes when you make it, once you finally have the keys to the castle the mystery is gone. The throne is just your chair now and the ballroom, just a room you walk past on your way to dinner.

How is it that all that effort, all that striving was seemingly for nothing? Perhaps it’s biological. Perhaps if we weren’t born to enjoy striving for goals we would never have made it out of the savannah. We would never have developed fire or agriculture or cities.

The desire for constant evolution and improvement is inbuilt. It’s just hard to realise that sometimes, that the journey was the prize, the learning, the moment. That the wind rushing through your hair, the adrenaline you felt, the desire to win while running the race, the countless hours you put into training, that was the treasure, not the medal sitting dusty, in the cabinet.

Buddhism has a lot to say about not striving, and being content with what you have. And considering the couple of thousand years of contemplation on the topic I think they might be on to something. Quiet the mind, enjoy and experience the moment. Don’t stop striving, but realise this, that what you are aiming for isn’t as important as the process you take to get there.


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