Live the journey, the destination will follow

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” – Henry David Thoreau

Made plans for celebrating as the old year fades away and the new year arrives? Better yet, what’s your plan for living the story of your life in 2018?

That’s not a stock question, by the way. I ask because it’s on my mind as I finalize a 2018 plan that includes more than just enjoying the fireworks. The new year will barely be underway before I hope to be celebrating another birthday. And, regardless of your personal reaction to birthdays, I’m still holding to the opinion that continuing to have them is a good thing.

This will be one of those landmark birthdays. You know, the ones that end with a zero? The kind that are deserving of special contemplation. I’m contemplating looking beyond the usual resolutions list: Lose weight. Save more money. Learn something new. Be a nicer person. Return all my overdue library books. Even the most noble of resolutions about being more productive and making life easier are paling in comparison to doing more of something we usually tend to do less of: Using our imagination. Being creative. Learning to play more.

We played as children, using our imaginations to become cowboys rounding up the bad guys, movie stars in the spotlight of a leading role, or sometimes firemen rescuing people and battling raging flames. But, there’s just something about this adulting thing that teaches us to grow up. Quit acting like a kid. Take on more responsibility. And, what happens? We forget how to play, of all things.

Playing is important because there is a fine line between a child’s play and an adult’s imagination. Both require using the mind to discover what’s hidden in the heart. My plan for 2018 is a return to playing more—using my imagination to live out the stories of life in my heart, the kind we all dreamed of as kids.

It’s one of those adulting things to spend our lives going, doing, looking, documenting, collecting, and other regimens considered to be important. And, to some degree, a fair amount of those regimens are required to figure out what the story of our life is all about.

We also spend a great deal of our lives thinking that story is the destination, where do we want to be and by what date? What do we hope to have accomplished? As we mature, we come to see our life as doing these things as a means of support, hoping someday to take a breath and look back on what we’ve accomplished. But, that’s not the story of our lives, that’s the destination.

The story of our life lies is the journey. Do we have a curiosity about the world we’re passing through? Do we daydream about the way we want the story to go? Do we play out the script we want for the story of our life? We should, you know. After all, when it’s the story of our life, the best part is we get to write the story ourselves.

Do we go confidently in the direction of our dreams like we did as a child with faith in ourselves, and without fearing mistakes? Perfection comes not in avoiding mistakes, but by learning from them to make corrections. Playing as a child meant sometimes falling off our stick horse, but we wiped away the tears and got back on it. If we didn’t, the bad guys would have gotten away.

One of the best things about the story of our life is that it is never too late to start on the best part of the story. Best sellers are not written in chronological order. Academy Award winners in blockbuster movies are rarely won by first time actors, or by the youngest actors. The best day to start playing again is today.

Remember to play during the journey, live the life you dream about every day, be the person you want the people around you to be, and that adulting destination stuff will magically take care of itself.

Oh, and that includes the fireworks this weekend. Best wishes for great fireworks, a new focus on the journey, and a happy and prosperous 2018!

—Leon Aldridge

Aldridge columns are also published in the Center, Texas, Light and Champion ( and the Mount Pleasant, Texas, Tribune newspapers (

4 thoughts on “Live the journey, the destination will follow

    1. Hi Sheryl! I think it’s a great idea, too. One of those that we often overlook or take for granted—playing to enjoy life more and playing more with our grandchildren and great grandchildren. I hope you and your family have a happy, healthy and blessed new year!


  1. Love your column! It definitely makes one think about our life! As I progress in age, I hope to continue to play. As you wrote . “The adulting will take care of itself.” Thanks for reminding me to play along the way of life!!!


    1. Hi Susan! Thank you—funny how we have to get a few birthdays behind us in order to learn the importance of playing again. I hope you and your family enjoy a wonderful new year filled with happiness, health and lots of blessings…and some play time!


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