Monday, November 17, 2008

Living for the Process, Not the End

The Monster of Florence is the true tale of Douglas Preston, a sci-fi thriller author, and the mystery he uncovers when he and his family move to Tuscany. Right in the middle of this crime story Preston shares one of life's greatest truths: "Life [is] more about the process of living than reaching some end result." Sometimes we forget this; I know I do. We think about what we do in terms of where it will get us, what it will get us. Rarely do we act without an agenda, be it good or bad.

Today I did something I thought was harmless, yet in truth my action was spurred by a desired end result, not the process of positively developing a relationship. Did I get what I wanted? Of course not - I just created something annoying that could have been avoided had I lived for the moment and thought about something besides my own agenda. My tunnel vision would never see the end it desired.

In a results-oriented world, it can be very hard to focus on "the now" and to just enjoy the present. Preston talks about how the simple task of shopping for groceries changed when he moved to Florence; instead of one big supermarket haul he had to go from vendor to vendor, shop to shop to gather all of his provisions. Instead of striving for the end result of a quick trip with lots of food, Preston focused on the people he encountered, the recipes he learned, and the new foods he tried as a result of enjoying the process of shopping.

We don't need to engulf ourselves in a different culture in order to experience this. All we need to do is remember that focusing on the process will achieve the best end result and will be more enjoyable along the way. Every conversation, every decision, every reaction is a part of the process. Living life to its fullest every day is the only way to make reality fantastic.

I can't think of a better example of this right now than President-elect Barack Obama. Clearly, he had an end in mind over the past two years of campaigning, yet I strongly believe that he took it day by day and focused on the process of what he was doing instead of that big White House awaiting him. Like Obama, let's take our time going from vendor to vendor.

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