A Journey of Words

Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

On this day, we go on a journey. When we pack for a trip, we have already started moving on our path elsewhere. It is our mind that is the traveler. Our bodies routinely go many places, but we have only traveled if we notice with our minds and hearts. Because every movement in mind, body and spirit is a journey. Every journey is a pilgrimage. And a pilgrimage is a movement past the self into something greater. What do you seek when you go on a journey?

On our trip we often go other places to “get away from it all”, or “for rest and relaxation.” Truth be told, traveling is very stressful. There is packing, organizing, actually going from place to place with only what we have on our backs, then whatever it is we do when we get there. Then we repeat the process in reverse. In new and unfamiliar environments there are a whole host of things that can go wrong, many of which we are unaware of. The things we usually take for granted, like food and drink, accommodation, and even a friendly face, are things we must work for. Generally we are forced to confront “it all” during the course of our journey. We can always rest and relax at home. So why do we tell ourselves these things?

When we move outside of ourselves, it is always hard work. The hard work of an empty room is the hardest work of all. What we do when we travel, when we confront the other, is move past ourselves in our surroundings, and hopefully internalize the process in our minds. When we have something to take a hold of, to grasp in our hands, to experience as our living reality, it makes the mental process easier to digest. And possibly gives us a means to distract ourselves from the lesson we ultimately sought to learn. This can both be good and bad, because sometimes that lesson needs a “soft landing” a return to the familiar in a gradual way so it eases into the psyche.

The danger of this approach is that those gradual changes are those we are unaware of. Jolts into reality are things we remember. With slow time, we might be able to alter the message to make it more palatable. Or we can offload those things we needed to know onto mere experience, and bracket it with the experience we have, and neglect to bring it truly home with us, into our hearts, minds and soul.

Our many distractions have taught us how to see and experience a wide array of things without bringing them home into our hearts. It is a form of self defense, a deliberate numbness, and it is the true cause of the banality and deadness of our civilization. We do not take what we do, what we think and what we see and truly look inside to see what it is they do to our hearts minds and spirit. Consequences are very abstract and mechanical– and usually pragmatic. Though we are told to follow our hearts, to glorify our feelings– that is merely theater. It seems to be another way of saying, “do what you want.”

And perhaps by now you see that doing what you want isn’t really helpful. No matter how successful you are at clutching that thing you think is what you most desire… sooner or later it pales. It’s flaws become apparent, you feel restless again, and you urge to fling the formerly golden object into the flames. For it has betrayed you, and you know not how. You suddenly despise it for being itself.

But do we not long for everything to be good? Do we not long for the Good? Do we not hope and desire for a thing that never ends, that never pales, that never abandons us? No matter how far you travel, how much danger you face, how well prepared you are, how far you go– those things are never to be found in the physical realm. As beings of flesh, we are sensitive to the physicality, that, in a crude sense, mimics what we are. But we are not merely physical, we are not merely flesh. We are not our feelings. We are not our desires. We are not merely what we can grasp.

In this journey, as in every journey, we seek the Good at the end of desire.


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