Are we there yet ?

There is a book that comes to my mind again and again at odd moments. It is not a philosophical book or a religious book. Nor is it a tome filled with nuggets of wisdom. Not a biography or a memoir. Strangely, it is an early reader book that spans about 10 pages with about as many lines.  It is a book I had to read a zillion times to my child.

The book is titled "Are we there yet ?" and it reminds me of the journey of life; chasing the answer to that same eternal question. 


In the book Mickey and his group want to go to the Sandy Beach which is just a mile away. They miss the road to the beach and instead go the other way .. and the journey begins ...

Sandy Beach 1 mile, Dry Desert - 10 miles.

Then the question -

Are we there yet ? No ! This is not the beach ! :) 

And they go on ...
Sandy Beach 11 miles, Rain Forest - 100 miles...
Sandy Beach 111 miles, Antarctica - 1000 miles...
All the way to back to -
Sandy Beach 1 mile, Dry Desert - 10 miles .......
where they take the correct turn and end up at the beach they wanted to go in the first place.

At every stage there is a route back to the Sandy Beach and they consistently miss this turn.

To me the entire 10 page book is an allegory of life. The Sandy Beach is the ultimate enlightenment and the other stops are whatever we crave in life - status, money, fame, possessions, power. Basically any state that doesn't give a sense of lasting peace or a permanent "Yes" to the question "Are we there yet ?" or "Have I arrived ?" (To word it differently).

It seems a little naive and perhaps subtly condescending to say - status, money, fame, possessions, power are not the ultimate goals. But generally speaking; is there is a threshold when we say we have enough money? Or we have enough material possessions? There is always something more to buy, there is always more money to earn, more places to see, more power to wield, more followers to get, more more more ........ It is a never ending quest. No, at least I do not consider it the ultimate destination.

The ultimate destination or nirvana if you will; does not mean an end to experiences nor is it the end of pursuit. It does mean that what you achieve and the joy of achievement is independent of the need for validation - be it internal or external.

It is like enjoying the beach for its own sake - rather than racing through the experience to put up a selfie/picture to show you are enjoying. The act of sharing the picture itself is trivial. However there is a difference in putting up a picture to share your happiness with your friends vs putting up a picture to show you are enjoying.

And so - when I look at life - I know my answer to that question is:  "No - This is not the beach". I am still journeying (or lost ? ) ...... and that question still haunts me.

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