‘Enjoy the journey; don’t focus on the destination’, said someone who’s clearly never shared a back-seat with a six-year old child puking into their beloved/retro/hard to find on eBay, Snoopy ruck-sack. Journey? It sucked. No lessons were learned; no valuable take-aways; no existential awakening occurred. I wanted home, fast, not least because the fluorescent bile from my son’s stomach was burning its way through the bag, trickling through my fingers and pooling in my waterproof jacket. Plus, breathing in regurgitated prawns, bananas and hot-chocolate was not enhancing my mindfulness moment.
So, ‘focus on the journey, not the destination’ was as platitudinous as could be, at that particular moment in time. Like all well-intentioned self-help/development/improvement advice and Monday morning motivational Twitter quotes. There’s a time and a place for well-meaning sentiment. As I found out when a friend of mine blasted me for reminding her that life is passing us all by at warp-speed, and therefore we must ensure our life goals don’t pass us by also. My ‘do more, seek more, be more’ positive attitude after a hard day’s work was as welcome as a genital wart on the lip.
Fluffy, well-wishing proverbs and motivational maxims surround us, and, at times, they’re incredibly irritating, if delivered at the wrong time. Who wants to read #GetOutside, #DoMore and #EveryoneIsHavingWayMoreFunThanYou when all you want to do is make it through the day without killing your boss/partner/kids/neighbour’s relentlessly barking dog?
Being one half of Off the Ropes, you’d assume my days are spent rope swinging through the trees of the Amazon jungle, BASE jumping off The Burj, or stand-up paddle boarding Niagra Falls. It may surprise you to hear that I am as prone as the next person to regular bouts of serious lazy-arse-itis. Many a day, I don’t want to ‘seek more, do more and be more’. I’d rather sit on the sofa in my husband’s pyjamas, eating chocolate spread and watching how low the already cut-price black opal will fall on the Shopping Channel. If anyone were to ask me ‘What are you doing with your life, Victoria?’ I’d likely hit them with a slipper.
So, whilst the wise words are right and well meant, the timing is wrong. Or, is it? Isn’t it the best time to hit someone with a punch of positivity when they’re having a pity party? Surely, the alternative of, ‘Aww, poor lamb, you’ve had a bad day. Tis ok, you sit there and wallow, my sweet’, isn’t remotely helpful. In fact, such words would surely indulge the negativity. Wouldn’t they?
Everyone struggles. Everyone. And whilst not everyone updates social media with their every negative thought or disastrous event of the day, it doesn’t mean they’re not suffering behind the scenes. Even the awesome, adventurous ‘off the ropes’characters I speak with every day face difficulty, doubt, fear, disappointment and insecurity, even if their social media profiles scream ‘My life is amaaaaazing!’
However, whilst we all struggle, we also face two options when dealing with life’s wobbles and woes: We sit in our pool of despair and feed off the self-indulgent misery and bellow at anyone who suggests we need to get our shit together, or, we choose to accept that shit happens; life sucks a lot of the time, but it ain’t gonna change unless we change our mind-set. And yes, that’s harder than crying into our dinner or staying in bed, but such actions separate those who do, and those who don’t bother. From those who achieve and those who say ‘I could’ve been someone if it wasn’t for my husband/kids/parents’ etc.
So, the next time someone tells you to ‘enjoy the journey’ and you feel like hitting them, pause and ask yourself why such sentiments strike a nerve. Unless you’re travelling on the motorway with a vomiting child, and then, by all means, ram their smug heads into the sick bag.