It’s funny what stories stick with you. Twenty plus years ago I read a book by a gentleman named Matt O’Meilia entitled “Garth Brooks: The Road out of Santa Fe.” It’s part memoir, part biography of the early years of Garth‘s music career. Anyway, there is this story that has stuck with me ever since.
Paraphrasing wildly here, the story takes place in the middle of the night as Garth and his bandmates at the time are traveling in two trucks across a few states to make it to a two bit gig the next day. Having done many such drives for many such gigs myself over the years I related immediately.
The story is that late in the night as Garth was driving he kept getting more and more fired up talking about the future. All this as his passenger/bandmate was trying to get some sleep. Trying for naught thanks to Garth who eventually hit this crescendo declaring:
“You know what, Mike?
“I’m going to be bigger than Hank Williams.”
“Is that right?”
“I’m going to be bigger than Hank Williams Senior!”
Finally awake his friend asked wearily,
“How are you gonna do that Garth?”
And Garth reportedly laughed and looked at him and said, “Man, I’m doin’ it!”
Why do I love this story? Begin by beginning.
When I was growing up there was this cliché that we were told over and over again: life is about the journey not the destination. While perhaps true on its face, it always felt a little flat. It was always more of a riddle than actually actionable advice.
In recent years, however, and certainly as I was writing my book, it became clear to me that there is deep truth behind this cliché. Life, of course, is about the journey not the destination but the reason for that is different than I thought. The reason it’s true is because the destination is not there for what we thought it was there for. It doesn’t mean what we thought it meant.
This distinction is not mere semantics. This distinction is the key to switching from living happily ever after to living happily ever now. It’s the ticket to now.
What I love about the story Mr. O’Meilia recounts is that we know how it ended. We know how iconic Garth became. We know that he was right that night decades ago traversing the desert to a less than ideal gig. That was the path. It wasn’t falling short or missing out or failing in any way. It was the path, the journey if you will. And therefore it is also the destination. It is part of the life he lives today.
One of the great gifts in releasing the notion of certainty is that, as we embrace that peak moments and moments of great pain - destinations both - are just passing through, we are liberated to and even called to show up more fully to both. They are not permanent.
And, yes, as we’ve talked about before, this gives us the opportunity to unpack the “destination.” To begin to behave “as if,” as in “as if” I have already arrived at that destination. It gives me a chance to drill down on why am I going after whatever the thing I’m going after is? Whether it’s a dream, a passion, a job, a relationship, travel, whatever it is. Why am I going after it? What do I think it will feel like when I get there? How do I think my experience of my life and myself will be different? Literally. How will I think, talk, breathe, dress, eat, sleep, etc.? How? Play it out. Yes, it’s an opportunity to drill down on that and to then begin to pull some of that into your daily experience of who you are now. There is no need to wait. If you know those things, there isn’t some magic place where that experience is unavoidable. There is only a magic place where you begin to behave INTO that experience. So, yes, this is about that sort of “as if” behavior.
However, it is also about embracing as Garth has so powerfully here the equally powerful “as if” reality that this is what it looks like to get where you are going. We do not get beamed forward into the life of our dreams. The journey is the destination because it is how we get there. If I behave as if my journey is getting me where I want to go, as if it is inevitable, then my journey becomes a celebration, my journey is part of the destination. My journey is not just time I’m burning through to get somewhere it is the arrival itself. This is what it looks like.
So, take it from me and take it from Garth. With practice, always with patient and gentle practice. Dig into why you want to go wherever you’re heading and begin to behave “as if” you’re there now. AND celebrate where you are now on your journey on its own merits because this IS what it looks like to get there, this IS you doing it. High five. You’ve arrived. Here’s to living happily ever now.
Be good to you.