Other than this quote I’ve never read Henry Miller — although he is definitely an author that is on the list of must-reads.
“One’s destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things”
What excites me about this quote is not so much the fact that the quote is by Henry Miller but rather he’s touched one of my most favourite topics — the value that comes with looking at things differently, or as Mr. Miller calls it, a new way of looking at things. I probably should correct myself; it’s not just my most favourite topic, it has become a personal and professional mantra.
Up and above the personal joy that comes when someone brings up the topic, there is insight that the place you want to be is the result of looking at things in a new way — and more exciting still, this isn’t just a literal destination (like sitting on top of a warm volcano in Iceland) but also the endless number of figurative locations you may want for find yourself (like the solution of a problem, a happier sense of self, or a career opportunity).
It really is such a simple formula — adopting a new way of looking at things will take you where you want to be, and in doing so has taken you to where you should be. Thinking and looking at things in a new way will take you to a place that will ultimately take you anywhere; it is the destination that opens the door to everything.
At this point I feel obliged to share the story about the Bird and the Snake (which, believe it or not, will be relevant). I can’t really remember where I heard this story and it will take a little imagination —
One sunny day a snake was slithering along on his way to the annual snake convention; he was one of the key note speakers which is a big honour in the world of a snake. The travel was easy and he was making good time until he came to a very deep, and very wide, crevasse.
The snake’s mood became very dark because he just couldn’t figure out how he’d get across the divide and was most certainly going to miss the convention. High above a bird was circling watching the snake ponder the situation and smiled as the snake became more and more agitated. As if the snake could sense being watched he looked up and spotted the bird.
What do you want snake?! (as you know birds don’t like snakes so the response dripped with distain)
Can you come down here and carry me across this crevasse. I have to get somewhere.
Why would I do that? You will just bite me and I will die.
No I won’t. I really need get to the snake convention and I would take it as a personal favour. In fact, I will tell all the other snakes what you did for me and they will never bother you again.
How do I know you won’t bite me when we are crossing the crevasse?
Why would I do that? We would both fall to our deaths.
This made some sense to the bird and it would be nice not to have to worry about snakes — they were always trying to eat him. The bird flew down and with a little hesitation introduced himself. And good to his word the snake didn’t bite the bird. The bird picked up the snake and started to cross the crevasse. About half way across the bird looked at the snake and the snake looked at the bird, and then he bit the bird. In shock, and with poison coursing through its veins, the bird and snake plummeted to the ground.
But … why? You … will most certainly die.
I know. But I’m a snake and this is what snakes do.
When you are working on a new way of looking at things it is extremely important to know yourself, your habits, your preconceptions, and your methods for looking at something — and then fight them. It is hard to look at things a new way and it’s important to challenge your current thinking. You need to ensure you aren’t just doing what you’ve always done (or looking at something in the same old way). It is also important to surround yourself with people who will offer different ways of looking at things — when you ask how they see a situation you want differing perspectives that will help you expand your scope of understanding. This will take you where you want to go.
The snake probably should have listened to the bird because he was missed at the annual convention.