The Joy of the Journey

Nipun Mehta always has a way of bringing me back to core values. One of the earliest lessons I learned from him was that the “joy is in the journey.” This simple metaphor has served me – and many I know – extremely well over the years. On his way to yet another ten-day sit in Igatpuri, Nipun shot an email of appreciation to some of the folks on the Friends Without Borders team, reminding us to stay focused on the journey: “All of you are journey-guys, so I’m sure you’ll be enjoying the ride no matter what the outcome …”

This has been an amazingly inspiring ride. Somehow, John Silliphant’s brilliance and heart have struck a tap-root into the Indian national psyche none of us could have imagined. We have gotten such warm encouragement from all sides that it would have been impossible for us not to have given our hearts over to this project, even if we had wanted to resist.

Yes, we are journey-folks in the end; and we have quite a non-metaphorical journey planned to deliver the mail to kids in Pakistan! (Stay tuned.)

Still, the phrase “no matter the outcome” sounds a bit dour and pessimistic, especially in light of all that has already happened.

If this project ended tomorrow, well short of Pakistan, it will already have been an overwhelming success. When you watch kids take real ownership of their natural instincts of friendship, as happens with each stroke of the pen in the writing of these letters, you realize that we have already changed the world. When you meet with typical what’s-in-it-for-me Indian corporate types who say, “OK, leaving my company’s participation aside, how can I participate,” you realize the truth in Viral Mehta’s insistence that the path to volunteerism is simply tapping into passion. When you consider that in less than two months, this project has garnered somewhere around a thousand individual contributors – people who have given what they could of their time or their resources – you see in action the very thing Nipun always preaches: that the world is a place of abundance.

One journalist who attended Sunday’s event at Wankhede Stadium said, “I have been covering Indo-Pak issues for 20 years. It is an ‘evergreen’ topic for us; people are always interested. This is the most interesting initiative in Indo-Pak peace in my memory.”

One of the true gifts of CharityFocus is to show, by example, that when you focus on the journey the rest will take care of itself. And, even if the desired outcome isn’t always produced, plenty of other good things will have happened along the way to make the trip worthwhile.

The Friends Without Borders project is another perfect illustration that mindfullness about the journey naturally and effortlessly produces great outcomes. I would not even begin to venture a guess about what the ultimate outcomes of this project might be. Nor will I ever know. It is impossible to see all the ripples we produce.

I hope and believe we will get to Pakistan; and that that project will spread like wildfire across India; and that the love will be reciprocated by Pakistani school children; and that these two most-inept-of-governments will not intervene to fuck it up. But, if things go completely to pieces tomorrow, I will still say that I cannot remember doing anything that had such a vast and lasting impact on the world.

The joy is in the journey; but sometimes it is also fun to look up and see where you are. One key is to realize that it is not a destination, but a way-station; another is to properly appreciate and acknowledge it you pass through.

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