• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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There’s No SUccess LIke Failure and Failure’s No Success at All

You know how people  say it’s the journey not the result that counts? Really? I mean doesn’t  that sound like a rationale  from people who don’t get results. Also, what’s so great about the journey? It’s full of hardship and suffering and self-doubt and insecurity and rejection and humiliation and pain and financial strife and snubs and perceived snubs.  Aren’t the results what you really want? Would I really keep writing screenplays if I didn’t think that somehow, somewhere a producer might spit in my kasha? Do I love it that much that I would just stay on the journey, clop clop clop, if I didn’t eventually get some nod from the universe that I wasn’t a dumb shit?  I don’t know. I mean: I’m asking? No one hires me to go on a journey. THey want their book sold. Okay, that’s different. Don’t people pursue what they are generally good at anyway? I’m never going to be a zumba instructor, a phlebotomist, or a senator.

What are you: journey or result? Be honest.

58 Responses

  1. Oh, you just gave me a chuckle. I did used to be about the result and only the result. Then I went on a bit of a literal journey and while it took nearly the entire year to do so, it made me realize that actually, the journey is not overrated at all. Of course we all want results. Why else would we pursue something? But I do believe that if we are not present in the pursuit, and also willing to fail, then we are missing a huge part of the point. You never know how much time you have; how sad would it be to strive for something and then run out of time and neither achieve the goal, nor the presence of mind to appreciate what you did achieve? Cliched as it sounds, part of the desired end result is the guts to even begin to go for it, and the space between that decision point and that arbitrary finish is what ultimately shapes you.

    • Margaret,
      “…the space between that decision point and that arbitrary finish is what ultimately shapes you.

      Very well said. It’s called life.

  2. I pursue what I’m bad at, it’s just another aspect of my insanity. But yeah, fuck the journey.

  3. Bits of knowledge, those oh-so-enlightening truths, are gleaned from the journey after you’ve reached your destination, not during. I will gladly jump over the mud puddles rather than wade through them, if possible. That’s not saying I haven’t learned anything through this writing process, I have. But I want the payoff, the proof to back a few I told you sos’.

  4. I think it’s 60/40 for me. The journey is very important because I think it is the part that makes you who you are. It’s the place where I learn, usually the hard way, how this thing (life, writing, etc) works. It’s the part where I invest in my future as well as others’.

    But I won’t lie, I love results that price the journey was worth it! I just don’t think results are as important. Compare two people who get results, one worked for it and another cheated. Whose results are meaningful? The one who worked through his/her journey to get there.

  5. I’m always up for a good trip.

  6. Like to be where I was going. I’m not much for travel.

  7. Results sure, why the hell try if not for results. Considering that the results that you want may not be the outcome you work toward and dream about, you may as well enjoy the journey because sweetheart…it may be all you get. We only get one shot at life.

    Sometimes it’s not the punchline, it’s how you tell the joke.

  8. I’m all about the result/goal but I gotta love the journey.

  9. Powerboaters always seem in a hurry to get somewhere, but for sailors, it’s the doing, not the destination. I think that’s true, but it’s still very satisfying to round a mark or make a tricky passage.

    I’m looking for results, but if I didn’t get something from the journey, even something small, I’d jump ship at the next stop and hide among the natives.

  10. I’m about results, but not at any cost. I think the “journey,” how we get our results, how we move through our lives, is also part of the story. My clients want me to sell their manuscripts, but they also want me as their agent because of how I am between now and when I make that sale. Maybe I’m kidding myself and they wouldn’t give a shit if I didn’t hold their hand and return their phone calls, but got them 6 figure deals all the time instead. But can’t I have both? A nice journey on a rainbow (with kittens, butterflies & some unicorns thrown in) and a big pot of gold at the end?

  11. But that’s the tricky thing about results in the writing world, you can never be sure when they might show up. You WANT it. So much that it causes the pain, anxiety, etc, etc, and so you stay on the journey. You keep trying, keep typing, keep persisting, hoping that one day “the results” show up in a Tiffany colored box.

    The “enjoy the journey” happens, or at least happened for me, when my results began showing up first wrapped second hand gift bags that appear to be, slowly, getting better every year. I would say that I’m now receiving results that look like Macy’s gift wrap…but I’m still holding out for Tiffany.

    What if my writing can’t ever get me there?? The problem is I don’t know if it will or it won’t and so…I stay the journey. And because I have a job, kids, and a husband I happen to love, I don’t have the luxury of falling apart and rolling around in the bogs of unrequited life dreams. I WANT the other parts of my life too and so I have to find the joy in the entire package.

    Also, I have come to realize that as soon as that Tiffany colored box arrives, what I will be WANTING will be something more. Satisfaction is never achieved. The bar will be higher, the goal further. If I don’t learn how to enjoy the movement, before I know it I will be lying on my deathbed muttering, “If only…if only…”

  12. I don’t know. I’ve written three books, none of them published. If results–meaning fame and money–drive me, would I be starting a fourth? There is some value in the journey. Maybe we are lancing some creative boil. Writers interested in money could simply buy a manuscript and paste their name on it. Oh. People do that, don’t they. Ghost writing. I guess for me it’s the boil thing.

  13. I always believe I have my answer right after I read the post – until I read the comments and then I have to think some more.

    Results. That’s what I want. But right now, I’m still stuck on the literary version of Interstate 95. Flying by me are Cadillac Escapades, Mercedes, and BMW’s, all going 85 mph and the occupants look suave and sophisticated, flying high on results and knowing exactly where they are headed. I believe I catch a hint of Polo Black as a smooth silver Jaguar edges up close enough for the scent to drift into my clunker car window.

    My Ford Pinto wobbles along with smoke billowing out, barely able to get to the speed limit. There’s no a.c., I’m hot and thirsty, and I can’t find the damn map that will help me get to my destination. Right now, the journey is long and lonely. Oh, and the next rest stop is 142 miles away and I had to pee 10 miles ago. I look ahead, squint through the dirty windshield only to see that the road stretches out beyond the horizon, as far as I can see.

    • Years ago (when I wasn’t self-employed and could afford such things), I actually drove a high-end sports car along I-95 from DC to St. Aug. The car WAS good-looking and fast, but I was just as miserable on that highway as anyone driving a Pinto. When I reached the hotel, I actually cried. The clerk was quite sympathetic. I-95 truly symbolizes Life, only cast in flat concrete .

      • Agreed…we live within a couple miles of I-95 now. I used to travel it with my parents when we’d go on vacations to Maine, some being so close to it now is a bit nostalgic. Some of the landmarks I remember are still there (South of the Border) and that strange pink hotel. I used to always wonder what went on within it’s walls. I’m old enough now to believe I know and I don’t want to prove myself right.

        I-95 – if you want to see all walks of life, from homeless to the super rich, it’s all right there.

      • Ugh – I meant SO being close to it now is a bit nostalgic.

  14. if you don’t go on the journey you can’t reach the destination. since you’ll be on on the journey, you may get as much out of it as you can. stop and stretch your legs. go to that funky roadside museum with the two-headed calf. look at some scenery, take some pictures, write a poem. you’ll never pass this way again. you can’t. look in your rearview mirror. they’re tearing the road up right behind you as you go.

    you may not reach your destination anyway. god is a cat who loves to pounce on us, play with us, bat us around.

  15. Journey. Good turns, bad turns and plowing straight ahead (I’m sorry officer, I didn’t know that stone wall was there). Bad decisions and stuck in the rain, taking shelter in an old barn occupied by a inhospitable hedgehog and the next day, miserable, looking into the blue eyes of a brown haired young woman who also figured out how to weather the storm. Cloudy afternoon, no mountains in sight and going for a walk in the village the next morning at sunrise, the clouds lifting briefly and the second biggest mountain in the Himalayas appearing after rounding the bend. Giving up on love and a year later becoming a dad. If it wasn’t for the journey, there would be no results.

  16. Results are good and good results are better.

    But then what? The only way to get there is to go . . .

  17. I used to be all about destination and results, but then I figured out that all that journeying was how I even knew where I was heading. I would sit there at the keyboard and head toward the place I thought I was going and it wasn’t until I ended up in another hemisphere through the actual writing that I realized where the hell I was headed. All that “wasted” time writing the crap that gets ditched is how I get somewhere, and I had to accept that it’s okay to get lost sometimes.

    In the meantime, if I don’t have a result programmed into my GPS in the next couple of weeks, I’m going to blow a deadline, so it’s pedal to the metal in heated pursuit of my destination.

  18. Be honest, you say.

    I had to look up phlebotomist, so now I’m thinking about bloodletting and Zumba and those colorful pants and how I’m never doing that.

    I can’t say journey or destination. Both suddenly feel like a lie.

  19. When I was young and frantic, the journey annoyed me. I couldn’t even focus on the scenery during my 3-mile-a-day jog/run exercise – instead, I spent that time mentally reviewing work schedules and composing letters. After an accident put me in a wheelchair for 4 months and the PT to re-learn how to walk took another 9 months, I gained a better appreciation for The Journey. I learned to measure progress in smaller doses; see the world and the people in it through a wide-angle lense and not a pin-hole aperature; discovered I had more patience than I imagined genetically possible.

    Now, whether it is Day Job tasks or preparing the latest submission, those lessons guide my determination to include the journey experience within the eventual results.

  20. I wish I could say journey, but I’m not that zen. My husband – who sucks at gardening – spends hours and hours working in the yard without getting any better at it, prunes when he feels like it (thus our crepe myrtle will never again flower and our gardenias are gnarled stumps with a few leaves sprouting out like unwanted hair) – is about the journey. I say he basks in mediocrity. My therapist says he is zen; he goes out there and mows and clips and rakes for the sheer fun of it. Being an ER doctor in one of the craziest ERs on the east coast – which he is good at, great actually – might have something to do with it. I turn everything, my pesto, a run, god knows my novel, every sentence, every chapter (e.g., decided I needed a prologue and spent nine months writing it and reading every prologue every written in every book published in English and then deleted it) into Everest…which is about results, ego, seeing my tracks in the snow. Which is why my husband is a better person than I will ever be. Though when I do reach the top, finish the run, rock the pesto, god forbid finish the novel, I mark it off my list and go looking for another hill to climb. Another journey that yields results that prove to the planet I’m worth the oxygen I suck up. Though, I think the world needs us both, journeymen and egoists.

  21. Here’s the truth. I just don’t know.

    You read all kinds of crap about this. There are mountains of books in self-help, psychology, life with dogs, highly effective people and chicken soup. Be in the moment, they say. But no one can tell me what that really means. What the hell do you do to be in the moment and how does that feel any different or get you to do anything different?

    And I don’t know if people do what they are good at. I’ve met many an incompetent teacher, CEO, lawyer, carpenter, hairdresser, priest, grocery bagger. Sometimes people fall into things (my father driving a truck for the gas & electric company for 35 years) or do things because they think they are something they aren’t (who told all those people lined up for American Idol they could sing?).

    The thing is, the journey is the story. If you tell stories, you have to know it. Your own, other people, your characters. But no one likes a story with a lousy ending. You need a result, even if it’s not the one you wanted or expected.

  22. We’re all chasing the horizon. There’s no there, there, but we fool ourselves with rest stops and grand hotels and kitschy little gift shops where we can pick up souvenirs to mark the journey.

    And I do like my refrigerator magnets.

  23. Result, all the way. I write with one goal in mind: to be published. I don’t necessarily expect to make a living off my writing, but a nice little supplemental income would be nice. And ego-wise, I would enjoy seeing a book with my name on it. So that’s the truth of it.

    As for the writing itself. Enjoy it immensely when it goes well. Savor the well-turned phrase. The art of it, the technique, the voice, etc. All those are certainly a major reason for the writing.

    But ultimately, I write to be published. Pure and simple.

  24. Hell yeah I want to be published. I didn’t give up almost everything to not get the results I wanted with my writing. But if I died today without being published, me and and my writing would be happy. To paraphrase Ram Dass, I’m just walking myself home. Most days that’s more than enough.

  25. What is it you think is going to happen when said producer finally hocks one into your cereal bowl? Is it a money thing? You wanna live large, big house five cars, the rent charged? (No judgment. It’s my biggest aspiration to never fly commercial again.) But I don’t know anyone in Hollywood who has enough. There’s always a new level. Your Citation gets mighty cramped when your neighbors rock a G5. And so you go. Isn’t that a journey?

    And the other? The intangible emotional thing that is going to change when it happens? For SURE there’s no there there. Don’t you hand that wisdom out on an embossed card when you sign a new client? I think every writer should have it tattooed on their dominant hand.

    Blah, blah. My answer? I long for results, even though I know there’s no magic pot of emotional or financial gold, but I’m trying like hell to learn to appreciate the rambling, discursive journey. It’s fucking hard, yo.

  26. I’d prefer to skip straight ahead to the results, thank you. The journey may provide some great window views, but there’s always that nagging fear my plane will crash and burn before I get where I’m going.

  27. Both/and.

    What results do we want from results (or journey)? A satisfied mind? I’d rather live satisfied already, unfazed by conditions. Even in the middle of a fussy tantrum for not getting my way, here’s that same open alive curiosity, picking up one of Averil’s fridge magnets, hmmm, Tantrumville, not such a comfortable town….

  28. Wanting to be a writer, trying to be a writer, getting respect and/or a career and/or money for being a writer is only a part of the journey, a leg or a by road. No body knows what or where your journey ends. Maybe not even why you are making the journey. So enjoy the scenery.

  29. I’m a journey girl, all the way. And, the optimist in me believes their is a pot at the end of the rainbow and, fool that I am, I believe it contains gold. Still and all, I’m not in any hurry to get there.

  30. If we arrived with perfect hair and non-sweaty asses, we’d probably be rude to waiters.

  31. Not journey exactly, but chase. You have to chase something. As an agent, it has to be a sale, I guess. But a writer gets to hallucinate something out of nothing. You try to pin it down, like a butterfly specimen and then you see it’s not alive anymore. Out you go again with your net…

  32. result-journey-result-journey-result-journey. It’s a spiral of depair, engrossment in the journey, hope for a result, and on and on and on.

  33. But you could be a zumba instructor!! I for one would only be suspicious you weren’t one if you made the class do jumping jacks.

    Does anyone recognize this story? You know I’ve always wanted to be a brain surgeon. I just never have time to sit down and do it. I have all these thoughts, I mean how hard can it be. I envy all you people who somehow manage to have time. Yeah, fuck you. (Done in opposite land. Insert writer.) Ha-ha.

    Seriously, even the moments I write to save my life the result is the point, I breathe another day. The results, always the results.

  34. the journey only matters if you get the result otherwise it is a long tiresome fucking road that makes you question your sanity daily.

  35. It depends on what you want. Temporal desires demand temporal fulfillment, although if the journey is hellish, we might question whether the reward is worth the trouble. Spiritual desires are both process- and result-oriented. The hardships are accepted and sometimes welcome, even if we don’t achieve the goal. But we always achieve the goal. As St. Francis of Assisi said, “All the way to Heaven is Heaven.”

  36. Reminds me of one of my favorite characters, Mrs. Cadwallader of Middlemarch. “When I married Humphrey, I made up my mind to like sermons, and I set out by liking the end very much. That soon spread to the middle and the beginning because I couldn’t have the end without them.”
    Like it or not folks, it’s got to be the journey.

  37. I see the whole thing of journey and result over many lifetimes. So, it’s all journey, in a way, but with the understanding that the result may come four lives from now. Ah, it will be so sweet, especially if I manage, in each of those lives, to wake up and know what’s going on.

    I woke up this time, so I’m planning on it for future lives.

  38. […] and author Betsy Lerner tackled the thorny issue of motivation for results or motivation for “the journey.”. Read through the comments to get a wide range of thoughts on this […]

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