Monday, March 21, 2011

Reflections on the year: The importance of the journey

There has been much to write about for the past two days, and I apologise for not having done so. I am on a small trip to Georgia Tech for a conference, a trip which Paul and I decided to do by car; we decided not to fly.

We arrived in Atlanta last night, after taking a couple of days to do the drive through Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and the northern part of Georgia. Along the way, we stopped in Dayton and had sandwiches in the Oregon district. We stopped in Lexington and explored the University of Kentucky; the campus was quiet because all of the students were on spring break. But Paul and I decided to throw a Frisbee around and see where the Frisbee took us; it took us to little nooks with wooden benches and daffodils, large expanses of lawns, and a beautiful wide pit in front of the library. As we continued to drive south through Tennessee, we saw weeks of spring progress in minutes and hours right before our eyes.

I feel like Paul and I could have missed all of this very easily had we decided to fly down to Atlanta. Yes, we would have "saved" six hours of travel time each way and we could have "gotten on" with our lives. But it seems nowadays we have become so accustomed to flying over small and vast expanses of the country, rather than exploring it and observing the gradients and differences. The drive gave me a better understanding of the landscapes this country is made of. The journey is as important as the destination.

Oregon District, Dayton, OH
Where will you take us?
University of Kentucky
Spring in KY
Library, University of Kentucky
Beautiful tree
The drive made me think about this past year. We live in a world where many want answers and solutions now, and to do that, we build ever faster computers with greater and greater computing power, we try to maximise the efficiency of everything we do. The challenges that face our world socially and environmentally, however, have no quick fixes. It would be nice if we were to come up with quick and easy ways to empower people everywhere to put all of these problems behind us. We may be able to cope with top-down approaches to solving these problems and understand them. But maybe not. Any durable change that fills our lives cannot come from anywhere else but from within. I feel that if people aren't involved in the journey of struggle and learning, any quick fix will not be a durable one. The journey allows a deeper understanding of the fundamental issues that can be easily overlooked when we look for quick fixes. We shouldn't forget that our quest to make each one of our lives less impactful is a journey. What is more important to realise though is that such a journey doesn't require being an engineer or doctor or social worker. We have all been endowed with all we need - hearts and minds and souls. All we need to be is open to the possibilities that will present themselves along the way.

I can't believe it has been three hundred and fifty-eight days since this my project started; it has been the start of a wonderful journey, a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain (one thousand points to the person who figures out which movie this is from). 

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