Marginal Journeys to Meaningful Places

The title of today’s blog is a rearrangement of Ryan Murdock’s travel blog tagline, Meaningful Journeys to Marginal Places.  (Please check it out at  While Ryan’s blog takes you on the open road, this one is an inward journey.

We are often creatures of habit – repeating our day to day routines, behaviors, and interactions without thought of the effect it is having on us not alone the rest of the world.  Change is the furthest thing from our thoughts.  If we dared, would we find that even a slight reframing of how we approach any one area of our lives would lead us to meaningful places we didn’t even know were available to us?

I think it is easy to feel that significant change is out of reach, that you have been given a bit of a bum rap in some area of your life, and that you don’t know where to begin to get to a different place in life so you just wait and hope that somehow something changes…you may even justify that behavior by telling yourself that if nothing changes at least you didn’t make things worse.  Even if the change we seek is great, I think that often the journey to get there is actually small.  Our final destination might be far away, but the journey to a meaningful place is often very small.  It can be a reframe of how we perceive the situation; it can be a change in how we see ourselves; it can be willingness to try something new; it can be a minor change in our routine.

An acquaintance felt like his marriage was failing and if it were not for his kids, he confided that he would have been long gone.  Anytime they talked, it always ended up being a laundry list of what was wrong, honey-do things that weren’t completed, and accusations of misplaced priorities.  We loaned him “The 5 Love Languages” book and he realized that his wife was a ‘quality time’ person.  In complete irony, he was spending hours working on projects for her as well as some time in escape from the arguments about how those projects weren’t being done fast enough and she wasn’t getting any quality time with him.  The marginal journey to a meaningful place for them?  He comes home from work and before he does anything else, he finds her and gives her a hug.  He said it was stunning how drastic the reduction in the number of arguments was almost immediately.  Their marriage improved because of one simple change in routine.

How many athletes do you know that cycle through training, injury, and rehab/physical therapy, before starting from scratch again with training?  The agony they put themselves through when the addition of planned recovery that is specific to their training would stop the vicious cycle and let their health and performance spiral upward.  It would be a very marginal journey to a place of great meaning for most of them.

Sometimes the smallest change can bring about something new and delightful, but how many of us are scared to make the short journey from our current thoughts and behaviors to something just a touch new?  I think the answer to that question is most of us.  We are scared because we think we might fail.  Not only might we fail but someone might see us fail and laugh at us.  I’ve decided to laugh with them the next time I fail.  If I can laugh with them, perhaps they will see that a bruised ego isn’t deadly.  And if I jump back up and try again, maybe they will learn the truth about failure – it is going to happen sometimes and is really nothing more than a tool to show you where you need improvement.  Perhaps they might even be less afraid to take their own journey.

If you are feeling the desire to try out change but don’t know where to begin, start with something simple.  If you normally put your right shoe on first, put the left one on first for a few days.  Make your breakfast out of food that you would typically consider eating only for lunch or dinner.  Tell the cleaning person/crew at your office how much you appreciate how clean they keep everything.

What marginal journeys have you been on that led you to meaningful places?  I’d love to read about them in the comments below!

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