I was asked to speak at Jenna's Relief Society a couple of weeks ago. Below is part 1 of my talk:
Joy in the Journey, or Celebrating the In-between Times
“Life is short and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are traveling the dark journey with us. Oh be swift to love, make haste to be kind.” Henri-Frederic Amiel (182101881) Philosopher, Poet, Critic
I’ve always been a person who embraced the idea that life is a journey. But I’m also a Type A personality, reared by Type A parents, with the belief that if you have time to sit, you have time to work. So, it’s not the journey, but it’s the getting to Pont B that’s important. Hurry to get this finished, so I can move on to the next project. Make something, clean up, put away, move on.
So smelling the roses was really foreign to me. Until – until I was a young mother, and I read this saying, “Sometimes we’re so busy existing that we forget to live.” And I decided this would be my motto. Life is worth living, not just getting through.
Pres. Ezra Taft Benson said, “Be cheerful in all that you do. Live joyfully. Live happily. Live enthusiastically, knowing that God does not dwell in gloom and melancholy, but in light and love.
And I did this just fine, for a while, until I got caught up in the haves and have-nots, and pretty soon I was back working from point A to point B, not enjoying the moment, not enjoying the journey, but pushing through the middle on to the end. How many of us spend time worrying rather than moving forward? “Am I prepared,” “Do I have the right tools,” “What if it rains?”
One day, while living in Alabama, a man asked me, “What is your five year plan?” That was twenty-four years ago, and I remember where I was, what I was doing, and I thought, “I’m here, right where I want to be. I want to enjoy every minute, why would I want more? No more. No more five year plans. I’ve spent my life working toward goals, mission statements, plans, and I’m missing out.”
I think of leaving Alabama, when I didn’t want to leave, when I’d created a life that I loved, and I didn’t want to return to Utah, and I thought my world had collapsed, and I went back to counting the number of days until . . . Thoreau said, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” This is how I felt when leaving a place I loved and moving to the place I’d always wanted to leave! As I’ve mulled these feelings around –throughout the years, and thought on Thoreau’s statement, I can’t help but think of the Atonement, and how we don’t have to live miserable troubled lives. If we do, then we are not allowing the Atonement into our lives. Life is to be happy, to have joy, not to limit ourselves. In John 16:33, we learn, “In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.”
Have you ever, or your children, said, “I cannot wait until . . .” “How much longer?” “How much further?” “How many more days until . . .?” Of course! But how about we look at the journey as being just as important as the destination? Margaret Lee Runbeck said, “Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of traveling.” Between birth and death, triumph and sorrow, beginnings and endings, we enjoy innumerable experiences that often happen – without our notice.
On Monday Scott and I met with our banker, single, female, cute, smart. And she was talking about how she couldn’t wait until she was married and could have a family. But, “maybe I should travel a little ‘while I can.’” And then as we talked about traveling she said, “I just need to travel and ‘get it over with.” And I replied, “Maybe you need to start, rather than get over.”
In our goal driven, 12-step focused, promotion preparing, dollar strengthened, daylight extended, with the end in mind society, it’s tough to focus on the journey. Yet, the middle, the middle part is the most important – living in the moment, having joy in the journey.
What are you doing today that brings you joy?