This past winter my friend Doug presented me with a gift box containing a journal and pen honoring his son’s legacy. Embossed with his late son Brian’s handwritten mantra, “The journey is the reward,” I spent weeks contemplating how to properly utilize such a meaningful and thoughtful expression of friendship. (To learn more please click here.) So I placed the charcoal colored box, with the journal and pen securely inside, on my desk as a way to remind me of my quest of finding a fitting use for such a purposeful gift. More on this later….
I like to read. I am not a fan of fiction, but prefer reading biographical works, historical tomes and about leadership put into practice. However, over the last few months my reading list has been centered on people who have developed what I call "other-worldly wisdom" from the observations, lessons, challenges and adversity they have faced in their own life's journey.
One of these people oozing “other-worldly wisdom” is Alexis de Tocqueville. While eating lunch on a cold February afternoon, I stumbled across a quote of his that really hit me as the right perspective needed to face adversity. The quote, taken from Democracy In America-de Tocqueville’s quintessential treatise on America, is this: “Life is to be entered upon with courage.”
After reading this quote, I immediately took a scrap of napkin, wrote it down, folded the scrap in half and put it in my coat pocket (I refuse to mark up a book with notes and highlighting-that’s why napkins and sticky notes were created). When I returned to work, I took the scrap of napkin out of my pocket, unfolded it and stared at it, wondering how was I going to capture these “other-worldly wisdom” words properly? Then it hit me! Do you remember that wonderful gift I received earlier? I can write de Tocqueville’s quote in the journal that Doug gave me!
After entering de Tocqueville’s words of wisdom in the journal, I stumbled on another quote later that afternoon. This one was from author Ray Bradbury. He said, “We are all born to be who we are. Our job is to finish the job on earth that we were created for.” Again, I grabbed the journal and began to transcribe.
Since that cold winter’s day in February, I have been writing down quote after quote after quote. The journal has become a go-to place for the thoughts and wisdom gathered from glimpses into other people’s journeys of living life on a daily basis. I have many inclusions in my journal and am always looking for more. I encourage you to share one with me, and others who may read this article, by leaving an attributed quote as a comment to this post.
In conclusion, I have found myself leafing through the pages of my journal, re-reading my handwritten transcriptions on many occasions. The interesting revelation to me about the quotes that I have captured so far is this: life is truly a long lesson, a lesson taught by experience. What better way to learn is there but to rely on the experiences of those on their journeys that have developed “other worldly-wisdom” and are willing to share? The benefit of their life experiences coupled with my own reminds me that Doug’s son Brian had correctly figured out life when he wrote, “the journey is the reward.”