Presence of Mind Within the Journey [Posted: 6/20/16]
Last weekend, I had the opportunity to attend a “Meet the Press” TV taping here in D.C. with a group of students. After sitting in a separate room where they explained to us how the show would work, we were directed to the actual TV set about 15 minutes before the program began. Once we sat down, I immediately noticed a large red digital clock under one of the TV screens that the whole audience could see.
During the next 15 minutes, we of course waited. Some people took to their phones while others looked visibly restless as they sought to find anything, be it their hands or their clothing, to distract them. I heard a few people attempting to strike what seemed like a forced conversation because the people around them had little to say in response.
Throughout this entire period, the clock continued to display the time as all of us repeatedly looked back at it, determining how much more time we had to ‘kill’ in order to get what we came for.
A friend recently made a point to me about how in life, we often focus on the destination instead of the journey and I felt that message really started to sink in during my time at NBC. Everyone around me, especially myself treated those few moments leading up to the show, the event of significance, as insignificant. The car ride to the station or the waiting period inside the building felt like the ‘cost’ we had to bear in order to receive the final product.
However, to view those experiences preceding the show as destinations in and of themselves would mean striving to give them a unique level of value and attention. Does that mean using it as a time to reflect on and reinforce thoughts/insights gained the day before? Or as an opportunity to pose an intentional question to those sitting around to learn from others’ experience? Honestly, it could be anything, but it involves approaching these moments, as mundane as they seem, as full experiences that can never be wholly replicated again.
Later that evening of the same exact day, I was walking along the street when, about 40 feet in front of me, two cars that were trying to merge into the same lane collided into one another. Thank God, none of the 3 individuals involved got hurt and the damage was minimal. I began thinking in terms of Divine Wisdom why I was chosen to witness that.
One thing is certain: The journey of those 3 people immediately became their destination. What may have appeared as a car ride, a period of time leading to a greater event of significance suddenly shifted and now this accident became the center of their attention.
Ultimately, how can we ever determine then, what constitutes our journey or our destination?
I then started thinking briefly about Ramadan: Within the Islamic tradition, the period right before sunset when the fast is broken is by far one of the most recommended times to ask of our Lord. Why?
I do believe one reason relates to what was mentioned earlier: That the inherent hastiness within me has me focused in on the end goal of satiating my hunger. To then enter an increased level of focus and reflection in the moments leading up to the destination means me giving value to something that although I may not immediately see as relevant, my Creator has deemed it, the journey itself as immeasurably more valuable.