To one immersed in the world of fantasy, it is easy to imagine a journey as a glorious adventure that the average person will never be able to experience. We can picture riding through the stunning New Zealand scenery in fine costume, with perfect hair flying in the breeze. We can see ourselves facing untold danger or breathless wonder, both of which we equally romanticize. But we forget that even in the worlds we try to dream ourselves into, most of the journey’s process is nothing exciting or in any way enviable. The journey itself is simply the necessary slogging down a long and exhausting road.
What makes a journey marvelous is looking back at how it took you–slowly–from Point A to Point B.
Even with this type of scenery to look at for much of his quest, I’m pretty sure that Frodo was not having the time of his life during the hours and days and weeks and months hiking to Mount Doom…
This remains true no matter what type of journey you face. It might be a literal, physical journey, it might be a journey of great personal pain, or it might simply be the sometimes frustrating journey of taking on a new project or skill. No matter the type, a journey leaves you with new experiences and, if conquered, new strengths.
Even as I write, I sit back in quiet exultation at the long-awaited completion of a small project that has consumed nearly every free moment of my last two weeks. As some of you may know, two weeks ago now, I released my third published short story, a Gap in the Road companion by the name of Ashes. The same day the book released, I decided it was at last time to move my website from the simple-but-limiting platform I had used until then, and move instead to WordPress.org, a much more versatile platform with which I could create absolutely anything I could imagine. I had done a fair amount of research and determined that WordPress was the best platform to switch to, and so on a whim I began the necessary procedures: exporting content from the old site, finding hosting, signing up with WordPress, requesting a temporary domain, etc, in order to begin creating the new website. At first, like any new journey, I felt excitement that I was creating something new–that when this was finished, it would be a far better product than before.
And then something happened. My inexperience in web designing caught up with me. Whereas with the old platform, creating a website was a simple matter of uploading images and writing in text boxes, now suddenly I found myself facing a platform with which a certain amount of coding knowledge was necessary. Some of this coding could be avoided by the extensive use of plugins, but even so, there was no way to know ahead of time which plugin would be great addition to the site, and which would be an utter dud. And while a plugin might help me insert a contact form or a slideshow, it did little to help change background color or fix word wrap. So try as I might to avoid it, I inevitably found myself, again and again, staring at the long pages of html, trying to decipher the strange symbols before me.
And so, long story short, what I assumed would be a quick, exciting transition to a better website turned out to be a long and agonizing process, with me spending sometimes hours at a time trying to fix one single issue. Now at the journey’s end, however, I can finally sit back and enjoy the fact that the process is over, and that I now have a much improved, fully-functional website. And while I could not pretend that these have been a fun two weeks spent tied to a computer and a stubborn website, I can say now that I learned a great deal through the process.
Does this small adventure sound like a very exciting or life-changing journey? No, it does not. Yet it comprises one of many tiny journeys that altogether make up the greater journey that we call life. And regardless of how unexciting or anticlimactic these little journeys in our lives may seem, no journey that produces growth is anything we need scoff at. You may, even now, face a momentous journey in your life. Or you might instead face a small journey that you think insignificant. We do not all simply walk into Mordor, but we do all make journeys in our lives that change us, little by little, great or small.