This month’s task for my writer’s group was to write around the title “journey”. There were so many wonderful contributions. Here is mine.
They tell you now, or should that be nowadays, that’s it’s ‘all about the journey’. At least that’s what the ‘spout-forthers’ on the internet tell you. I think, they call themselves ‘influencers’, but I prefer ‘spout-forthers’ as with bombast, they photobomb their way into our virtual lives with their opinions, beliefs, and perspectives, manipulating, or trying to manipulate, each individual thought process and convince people of the need to subscribe to their viewpoint or product.
They monopolise the socials with memes that speak of the ‘journey’ and the importance of ‘living in the now’. The destination is somehow a fluid concept that, I guess, for many of us is obscure. But what of this journey? What is it all about? And can a journey be a course with no defined destination? The ‘spout-forthers’ don’t seem to talk about that. They just say it’s ‘all about the journey’ often laced in universal metaphor advocating the ontology of presentism. They say it with their sparkling, white-edited teeth, glistening coiffured locks, toned and tanned bodies, and perfect make-believe lifestyles from their polished, photoshopped worlds. In essence there’s an irony right there – the ostensible proof of a preparatory prelude to the video or photo opportunities that pervade any instantaneous ‘nowness’!
Meanwhile others talk about goals and targets. Tangible concepts that are destination orientated. They want us to make these goals SMART. Measurable outcomes calculated in the short, medium, and long term; the end points of mini and longer journeys, I suppose. Projections reaching into the future and less cemented in “the now” perhaps.
What these ‘spout-forthers’ fail to mention is how the two interrelate. Can you, I mean, have a journey without a destination or a destination without a journey? Where do we get to if or when we wander aimlessly without sense of purpose and is that more fulfilling and maybe less stressful than steadfastly walking to a planned future? And then again, what about the past? The place from whence we have come. That land of experience framing our understandings and our reckonings of what it means to be here in ‘the now’ and giving us a platform and a springboard. None are really mutually exclusive, but all allude to a direction of travel – a journey with the delicious dilemmas that we construe in life!
This was the predicament that confronted George that morning in March when he woke up with his mind a whir – wired to think, or overthink as he was sometimes very aware, yet incoherent in this moment. He stirred trying to work out whether this moment in time was part of his journey or whether he had arrived. With the sun illuminating particles of dust that danced in the arrowshot of light piercing its way through a gap in the curtains, he roused intent on answering a question. Yet he was still very much in that post-nocturnal postictal stupor from a dream of which he had no reckoning.
It wasn’t a question that he had been aware previously needed answering. And if he was honest, it was not a question that he could rightfully define. Yet the answer was, unsurprisingly, elusive or was that the question – he did not know for his consciousness presented as a vanishing illusion suspended between two worlds in his hypnopompic state. That morning, though, it, whatever ‘it’ was, was certainly wrestling with a fuzzy fervour in the depths of his furrowed brow synchronising with the creased sheets in which he lay.
“Am I here?” his mind mumbled. “Or am I going somewhere? And if I’m going somewhere, then where am I going? But if I’ve arrived, where have I come from? And then am I now in ‘the now’, or has that moment passed? And how do I know because if I’m here now, or at least I was in ‘the now’ then, but now this is now, can now even exist? Or do I need to go to ‘the now’ and if I do, or even if I do not, then what about where I’ve been if that was now, and now is now, and then, will be now too?”
Confusion descended in a miasma of thought as a cloud outside passed in front of the sun so that the dust particles ceased their dance.
The words broke through his semiconsciousness.
“George! You getting up this morning? You’re going to be late!”
“Shit!” Suddenly, he was brought right back to “the now” however ‘nowish’ that was with the sledgehammer of reality which succinctly answered his unasked question. The blunt brutality struck in that familiar way that our stressed, everyday lives so often have the discourtesy of doing in an instant! And in that instant, he was awake – up and ready to continue on his journey into the then, the now, and the next, right now!