The Dao de Jing offers wisdom on many fronts, and one of the wisdom sayings I encountered yesterday has given me points to reflect. The Dao says in effect that a good traveler is aware and open to what happens along the way, and is not focused solely on the destination. This is my expression of that truth. It is certainly true for me.
I began to think of all the journeys in my life: schooling, graduations, courtships, marriage, motherhood, careers, trips here and abroad . . . It reveals the truth of that Dao wisdom: every event, every endeavor and journey I have made is memorable in major part because of what happened along the way.
For example, on one of my trips to China, my flight was canceled on the connecting flight to Los Angeles because of engine problems. As a result, I was a day late getting to Shanghai and needed to join up with my group in Huangshan, a well-known mountain in Anhui Province (a locale of Pearl Buck's trilogy beginning with The Good Earth). It was a difficult and anxiety-ridden trip, fortunately under the supervision of a fine travel agency. The last leg of that journey was by train from Shanghai to Huangshan where two young tour staff members drove me up the mountain to join the group at a hotel there, in the middle of the night.
What made the trip memorable was who shared the train compartment with me: Mr.Chen. He was employed by the Chinese government as a real-estate developer (later to begin the resort at the foot of Huangshan Mountain) and a member of the People's Consultative Congress for Anhui Province. His son was a graduate student in engineering in the United States. The result was a series of visits with the Chen family in Taiping over several years of my travels to China, and a continuing friendship with his son and additionally his wife which lasts even today. My entire response to the wonderful country of China has been hugely affected by that "chance" meeting with Mr. Chen because of a canceled flight out of Cincinnati!
There are many such adventures and delights and challenges at every point in my life's journey, teaching me that it is not the destination that must be focused upon solely. The process, the journey, has made all experiences necessary, whether they have been difficult or enjoyable. As the Dao affirms, to remain open to each moment of this journey through life is what creates who one is. Destinations are vitally important, but the path taken to reach them is incredibly valuable.