Thursday, January 22, 2004

Wherever You Go, There You Are

I commute about 180 miles to my office each day. When not listening to NPR, it gives me the opportunity for a lot of reflection, prayer and silence. Usually, this is a good thing. Sometimes, I wonder how healthy it is, however.

Navel gazing can become an obsession. Traveling at 65 miles an hour encapsulated in a steel box can add to the illusion of being in a sterile environment without roots. Being propelled forward suggests that action is occurring as a result of all the rumination. It is a false sense of progress and security; of change without any risk. As long as the gaze is kept on self, I am in control. As long as the metal box insulates me from the external, it can be considered illusionary and inconsequential.

The other night, as I traveled the parkway, the trees on either side created a dark tunnel illuminated by a small ribbon of fading light from above. The image was invigorating, suggesting a journey, or even a birthing, into some future unknown reality. Was it? Not really.

The overuse of the image of a journey is somewhat self defeating, I think. It draws us into the facade of thinking the really important stuff is somewhere up ahead. The reality is that the future is an illusion. All we have is this present moment. And in this present moment, location is an insignificant factor.

If our goal is to arrive at some idealized destination, then we are being motivated by a longing for some absolute that may very well be a place that is stagnant and uchanging, a place in which we have become unteachable. If we hope that the journey will allow us some escape from our current sufferings, we place our hopes in yet another illusion; that we can somehow escape from ourselves. Wherever you go, there you are.


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