Journey or Destination

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I don’t need directions when I navigate around my hometown, but before I hit the road for Tennessee earlier this month, I made sure I updated my smart phone settings and had a friend rig Bluetooth in my rental car.

I found myself grateful for the generic voice that kept me on the correct path. I had to laugh, each night, when I pulled into my hotel parking lot, usually off a poorly marked frontage road, and heard the message…

You have arrived at your destination.

I couldn’t help but think about the age-old question: Which is more important, the journey or the destination?

Well, of course, most of my life has been marked by daily destinations. They might have been work-related or about fulfilling a social plan. Even now, every day, I probably try to get somewhere by a certain time.

While I was flexible about many things on this road trip, I knew that I wanted to check into my hotel by seven and find my way to a dinner spot without drama.

There are always objectives, always destinations to move towards.

But, when taking a road trip, it seems that everything is about your experiences. It’s all about the JOURNEY.

John Lennon’s famous lyrics from Beautiful Boy remind us that Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.

It seems important to remember that life is not a scorecard or a to-do list with line items checked off.

As I was traveling solo, when planning my route to Jonesborough, I decided to keep to a maximum of seven hours a day of drive time. After staying the first night in Louisville, I wanted to visit a distillery along the bourbon/whiskey trail before I checked in to my hotel on the second night.

There are about a dozen distilleries along the bourbon trail, most of them east of Louisville. Some are big brands, others boutique labels.

I decided that if I could only take in one, I wanted to go to Maker’s Mark, more because of its scenic location than because of loyalty. Their distillery is just outside of Loretta, just past Bardstown and My Old Kentucky Home State Park (Yes, there’s actually a park by that name.)

Their website gave directions, advising not to rely on GPS systems, but after narrow roads, roundabouts, and rolling hills, I became unsure of myself, whether I was traveling in the right direction.

I turned on Google Maps yet again, praying that I would get there within a half hour, enjoy a tour and tasting, and be on my way so I could make it to Knoxville before sunset.

I longed to hear the voice of my Bluetooth enabled app telling me, “You’ve arrived at your destination.”

I started to worry that it would get dark, and I would be lost. So much for enjoying the journey.

I was getting discouraged until I saw a couple tourist coaches turn into a large parking lot. Ah, relief… I was at the Maker’s Mark Distillery.

It was beautiful! Just the kind of place where I could imagine homemade spirits being made. The grass was long and green. Some of the buildings were made of stone. A creek ran through the complex.

During the tour, I learned that all the grains used for their bourbon came from nearby farms. The water came from their own lake. They even printed their own labels.

I sipped only two of five samples during the tasting (not wanting to get schnockered before the drive ahead), was able to leave the gift shop without adding too much to my month’s VISA bill, and made it to my hotel in Knoxville just past sunset.

Which is more important? The journey or destination?  I decided to look at this question in a new way.

Destination is not just a geographical point on your Google Map. I know that the destination I am always seeking is the HEART.

It never moves but is always taken with you.

Staying open, being willing to be changed by your travels in life is also about the heart. The impulse to simply answer the question, “Journey or destination?” doesn’t apply. It’s not an either-or proposition.

Holding what seems to be opposites in your head at the same time is no small thing.

Re-printed with permission.

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  • Deborah Hawkins

    Deborah Hawkins has been blogging on gratitude and mindfulness for over a decade, posting over 500 essays. In December of 2019, she brought out two books, The Best of No Small Thing — Mindful Meditations, a collection of favorite blogs, and Practice Gratitude: Transform Your Life — Making the Uplifting Experience of Gratitude Intentional, a workbook on her process. Through her books, classes, and coaching, she teaches people how to identify things to be grateful for in everyday experiences. New blogs are posted every week. Visit her website: Follow her on SM.,

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