The reality of self work and progress is that it’s not linear, nor final. This is what I mean by the term: The journey IS the destination. This voyage architecting my best life never ends because there are always more updates that can be made. Instead of striving for some final destination, my best life is lived moment by moment.
When I take this premise a step further, I’m reminded that if I find that my journey has ended, and that I’ve gotten comfortable with my life and the people around me such that I’ve stopped questioning, that’s when I should have cause for concern.
To exemplify these thoughts, I’ll share with you a recent memory of a memory that made my knees buckle and brought me to tears.
The Memory of A Memory
It was December in Las Cruces, New Mexico. I was warming up lunch in the kitchen when the sensation that I was in a different time and place came over me.
I stopped what I was doing, turned off the stove, then stood still for a second and shut my eyes. The moment that returned was one of the most simple, but impactful, of my life.
It was just about 12 years ago in early Spring. At that time, I was in the process of leaving San Antonio, Texas to move to Manhattan. Living in New York City had always been a dream of mine, and I was finally ready to make said dream a reality.
Before I could do so, I had to say goodbye to the life I built in Texas. Though I only lived there for three years, those years were some of the most important of my life.
During that time I started my career, made amazing relationships, and proved to myself that I could build a life away from the home I’d always known. But, despite all of these factors, I was certain I had yet to reach my potential. I also knew I wouldn’t be able to do so in SA Town (much as I loved it).
The memory is one that always makes me sad. In it, a work friend and I were walking to our cars after my last goodbye party (I had many, hehe). He stopped, looked me dead in the eye, and said, “Always remember. A good day in New York is a great day, but a bad day in New York is the worst. And… You can make it through anything.”
I recalled how, as he was saying these words, I could barely lift my eyes to meet his gaze. When our eyes did meet, I remember looking away from him as quickly as I could, fighting back tears. Then, we said our “goodnights” and “see ya tomorrows”, and I got into my car.
The Song of My Journey
When I turned on my car radio, the song came on; one of my favorites of all time. The refrain cut through me, its vice-like grip holding me in that San Antonio parking lot.
And I know I could look at anyone but you now
I could fall under the eyes of anyone
But you now, now, now, now
This is a list of what I should have been
But I’m not
This is a list of the things that I should have seen
But I’m not seeing
I’m just turning away from where I should have been
Because I am not anything…
The amount of shame and fear I felt when those words belted through my speakers overwhelmed me then. I remember my mind starting to unravel with thoughts like: What was I thinking leaving such a comfortable and wonderful life behind? What if I didn’t succeed? What if I was being ungrateful for throwing it all away!?
In present day, I had forgotten about lunch. Instead, I went to the living room, found my computer, opened YouTube and typed the song into the search engine.
I again started playing it, letting it, and all the memories and feelings that came along with it, surge through me. Re-living the angst, I fell to the couch crying uncontrollably.
I’m Still Not at The Destination
After a few moments I asked myself why the tears? Why was this memory still impacting me so?
My response was disheartening. It was because I still didn’t believe I’d reached my potential; my destination. I saw that I was still, after 12 long years, not “there”. I reasoned that if this was the case, maybe my leaving really WAS the biggest mistake of my life. Maybe I was a failure.
The Journey Is the Destination
It took a few moments of gasping for air and of reflection and self questioning, to see that no, leaving wasn’t a mistake. If I had stayed, I would not have stepped fully into myself as I am now aiming to do. I would have remained comfortable, yes, but stagnant.
That’s when I remembered: The Journey is the Destination. There simply is no “there” to get to; no finality to the journey. Instead each moment IS what I have been working towards, and each moment is what I need to make the most of.
Rather, the realization was seeing that if I settle into a comfortable state of being, a “there”, that’s when I should be worried.
Wait… What Did I Just Say?
Am I saying that settling into a comfortable life (whether that be made up of a partner, family, community, place, etc) is negative? Do I think building that kind of comfort into life means I failed?
Not. At. All!
It isn’t the building of comfort into my life that I think is problematic, but merely the letting go and forgetting to continually question and tweak my life that can be the issue.
This is something I didn’t really learn until I took all the distractions out of my life. Before I took the time to question who I am and what my beliefs are, then align my actions with those pillars, I took the easy road. This meant walking the path of those before me and assuming it would lead me to happiness (Spoiler alert: It didn’t).
I now see that questioning and even a healthy dose of self doubt which leads to questioning is one of the structures that enables me to architect my best life. Along with that questioning is continuing to tweak my actions to align with what’s truly best for me.
This process is the definition of architecting my best life.
Keep Questioning, Keep Tweaking
If I stop continually questioning and aligning aspects of my life, and instead choose to succumb to the fear which keeps me from digging deeper, I will never pull back the curtain to show me what needs fixing, nor will I ever conjure up the courage to make updates to improve my well being.
Those matters that need fixing may be the people I choose to spend time with, the activities I choose to partake in, or the thoughts I choose to believe, but whatever the curtain may be hiding, if I don’t pull it back and see the issues for what the are, the underlying issues that keep me from my full potential will remain.
Not only will they remain, but they will fester and expose themselves at the most random times. I feel not in control of my own life, and allow myself to become a victim of my own demise.
The hardest part is pulling back the curtain, because once I do, the issues can no longer be ignored. In fact, my inability to ignore the discontent with my life is exactly why I left SA Town all those years ago.
The Best Part
The most beautiful part about looking at whatever is behind that curtain is that, once I do, and once I investigate my feelings and resistance, I free myself up to see new ways forward, and I invite new and more fulfilling energies into my life.
In fact, after I unearthed my reasons for tears that day in Las Cruces, it was as if a 500 pound weight I’d been carrying with me for 12 years was released. I think about that moment in the parking lot now not with sadness or regret, but with confidence and knowing.
I know who I was and wasn’t then, and I know why I stepped on to the next part of my journey.
With this confidence in mind, I also am reminded to keep on walking, because if I stop, I stop truly living.
And… I kinda like living; moment by moment.