Are we there yet?

What must Christopher Columbus have been thinking after he slipped his moorings and slid out into the Atlantic?  Probably the same thing kids think when they’re going on vacation – “Are we there yet?”  It’s a persistent concern whatever your future. The simple answer is that we’ll eventually get there.  But the question still remains, “Are we there yet?”

There are some for whom the journey of life is never complete.  This is unnecessarily poetic in my view.  I prefer a dénouement to an abrupt end. It is a popular myth that the journey of life is more important than getting there. Letting oneself down gently from the stimulating tensions of life is the last round and it is a pleasure not to be denied or diminished.  That’s what it means to be there, accepting that you’ve taken care of business and are entitled to relish it.  Sound easy?  Well, it is and it isn’t.  It is easy to draw the line on your current objectives.  Sometimes it is just the most convenient way to jettison one’s self from the hubbub.  But interestingly, once you’ve jumped ship, you’re left wondering, “Are we there yet?”  The problem isn’t the journey, the problem is knowing when it’s ended.  It is in some respects the same conundrum which regularly hounds the profligate spender – “When will I finally have all that I require?”  Assuming we eventually have enough, there is still the time to enjoy it.  But when have we had enough?

The active pursuit of something is considerably different from the passive delight of it.  Fortunately we are assisted in this necessary transition because we will exhaust the aggressive urges peculiar to acquisition. We are then set to relish the benefit.  Then it is time to think about where we have been in life and what we have done.  Astoundingly the recapitulation of life in these broad terms is the work of a moment.  The most casual retrospection will paint the strokes.  Decades of detail vanish with the simplest review.  There may be an inclination to belittle a lifetime of effort when summarily portrayed.  That however is not desirable and it is most certainly not germane to “getting there”.  The goal is to throw up one’s hands and enjoy the view.

It is odd what we recall about the past.  More often than not, it is not the so-called important things that happened.  Rather it is the moments we remember that paint a picture in our mind, a stand of trees, the coldness of a day at school, a pet, a first love, a friend’s distress, the drudge of studies and work.  How often have we afforded ourselves the chance to think of life in such terms?  It is a certain luxury.