If there is one lesson you should pull from Homer’s Odyssey, it should be that the journey is just as important as the arrival (at least that’s what was emphasized in my freshman Western literature class). I took many insights from Homer’s story, but that particular lesson has strongly influenced my life.
I love adventuring, exploring, creating, and experiencing new things. But I have found that when you pursue any of these only for their destination or end goal, you miss half the beauty and joy.
So throughout my life I have sought to cultivate a love of looking. And I firmly believe it has helped me see the value and meaning in the journey itself.
Here’s a terribly concrete example.
Driving is one of my favorite activities. I relish the opportunity to sit in a car and look. I usually care less whether I have a destination or not—it’s a delight just seeing what is around. I recently drove eight hours to South Carolina to visit my family. I was thrilled to see my mother, but I was also thrilled to spend eight hours in a car by myself. I didn’t dread the length of the drive or wish it were shorter so I could see my family sooner. I was thrilled that I was able to look at all the fall beauty on the way. I loved and enjoyed the journey. It’s a lot harder for me to love the journey when it’s not marked out in miles.
There is a beauty in the journey itself that is often overlooked because we are so anxious about the destination. I think we can see this in creativity as well.
My creativity is mostly expressed in words. And there is something so satisfying about seeing a finished piece of writing. I have countless ideas for topics I want to write on, but I want them to be complete, I want the thoughts in my head to materialize into a complete story, without the effort. In my desire for the instant gratification of my creative urge I find myself wanting to skip the creating—the part that I claim to love the most.
For in art, to skip the journey is to skip the creation.
It is important to remember the joys of the creative act. While it is satisfying to see a finished product, forgetting to appreciate the work that you put into creation takes away half of the delight.
Remind yourself about your motivations for making art. Is it only the end product you love? No, it is the process. While forgetting the joy of the journey can kill the love of your art, remembering it can be the first step to rekindling the desire to create.
I enjoy the act of dancing my fingers over a keyboard and watching words form. I enjoy holding down the backspace key for extended amounts of time when I find a better way to say something or when I realize I’ve repeated myself three times only with slightly different words. I love the act of expressing and seeing that expression take shape in words that others can read. I love telling a story and knowing that it is my own.
In order to fully experience and enjoy life we must enjoy the journey, whatever shape it may take. And in art, that journey is the very act of creation.