Journey Before Destination
I’m a pretty big nerd. Have I said that before? I think I’ve said that before… Yeah, I’ve definitely said that before. But it’s true! And it’s a big part of who I am, so it bears repeating. I’m a nerd and one of the myriad ways in which that manifests itself in my personality is my love for egregiously large sci-fi/fantasy books. Anyone who knows anything about the modern sci-fi/fantasy literary landscape has heard of Brandon Sanderson. A ridiculously meticulous and talented author, the man churns out more content than seems humanly possible, and all of it—in my humble opinion—ranges in the categories of solidly good to outstandingly phenomenal.
That said, Sanderson’s magnum opus, The Stormlight Archive, hosts a collection of characters who must swear and keep various oaths in order to have access to their superhuman powers. These characters, known as Knights Radiant, make up ten distinct orders, all of whom adhere to the first of five ideals—The Immortal Words—which states: “Life before death. Strength before weakness. Journey before destination.”
While all three of these tenets that make up The Immortal Words have a ton of depth and meaning to be teased out, it is the third that has been sticking with me lately as I continue to apply myself on my voiceover journey.
Journey before destination.
I love this concept because it can be applicable to so many seasons and aspects of life. It can be a pithy little saying to help remind us not to take life—or ourselves—too seriously, but there’s a lot of complexity and wisdom woven into its meaning, as well.
In the context of Sanderson’s story, for instance, one character further expounds on this ideal in the following way:
“Journey before destination. There are always several ways to achieve a goal. Failure is preferable to winning through unjust means. Protecting ten innocents is not worth killing one. In the end, all men die. How you lived will be far more important to the Almighty than what you accomplished” (The Way of Kings, Chapter 59).
Wow! There is so much to unpack there! I’m not saying that my voiceover work holds anyone’s life in the balance. I’m generally not forced to make life-altering moral choices in the context of my job—though, I suppose arguments could be made that this is true in regard to the kinds of content one is willing to participate in. But the idea that how we do something is more important than what we actually do is one that I think applies to voiceover and any other kind of work.
Does my conduct with potential clients make them feel heard, respected, valued, understood? Does my behavior reflect well on my VO colleagues? What kinds of gigs am I lending my voice to? What kind of impact do those projects and stories have on society? Am I playing fair, or do I try to cheat the system? Do my actions benefit or undercut the VO industry? Am I doing my best to provide quality products, or am I cutting corners?
As a newer voice talent who is still very wet behind the ears, there is so much to learn and do. It can be terribly overwhelming. There is so much temptation to take an easier route for a chance to jump ahead. Dwelling on this ideal, though, reminds me to ask myself: Why am I doing voiceover to begin with? Is it an attempt to achieve some level of fame and/or fortune? Or is it because it’s something I enjoy and am passionate about? One of those things is all about the destination, while the other truly is about the journey.
And that’s another reason I so appreciate the concept of journey before destination. Because the process of breaking into the VO industry can be so overwhelming for new voice talent, it’s a solid reminder that all of the learning curves, trial and error, risk-taking, rejections, monetary investments, and so on are simply a part of that journey. They aren’t simply obstacles to be overcome so I can get to a final destination; rather, they are an integral part of a process that—frankly—does not end. There’s always more to learn—more tech or techniques. There’s always someone better or more experienced—different coaches or other talent who are willing to share their insights. There’s always something more to achieve or strive for—we can always keep improving. None of us ever truly “arrives,” so to speak. We may reach our goals and find contentment in that place—and that’s great; I’m absolutely not trying to downplay anyone’s sense of gratification—but we can also choose to carry on and try to surpass those goals in some way, shape, or form.
To a certain extent, when we focus on the journey rather than the destination, we realize that many, maybe even most, of our journeys really don’t have a destination at all. There are checkpoints and achievements to celebrate along the way, but the close of any chapter is ultimately the start of a new one, full of excitement, wonder, and mystery.
How do you perceive your journey? Do you typically have an end in mind, or are you content to go along for the ride? What does journey before destination mean for you?
Until next time, friends, keep telling stories.
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Voiceover Artist | Storyteller