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The Journey or the Destination?

Lethologica's picture

I left class on Tuesday puzzling over the thought, the possibility, that evolution is driven not by any invisible plan, or even competition and fitness, but by opportunity and exploration.  After finally coming to terms with the idea that there might not be any goal that evolution is trying to reach, that there is no true purpose, and finding that I rather liked it, I slowly began to realize this idea has actually been quite prevalent in my life, but in different forms. I cannot even begin to guess the first time I heard that it wasn't the destination that mattered, but rather the journey taken to get there. Beyond my own history, I also came to realize that this idea is popular in general culture. The number of different authors alone who wrote something similar at some point or another is, I think, stunning. Douglas Adams, Robert Frost, Lewis Carroll, and Ursula K. LeGuin,  to name only a few. For example:

  • "I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be." (Douglas Adams)
  • "There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable."  (Douglas Adams)   
  • "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-- I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference." (Robert Frost)
  • "If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there." (Lewis Carroll)
  • "It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters in the end." (Ursual K. LeGuin)

I find it surprising, then, that I found the thought that evolution could be just the same, a journey with no destination, stunning and hard to wrap my head around. Why had I never applied this old, favorite concept to the processes of evolution? Why was it so uncomfortable to do so at first? Was it because I still hadn't quite 'broken the mold,' so to speak, that my high-school biology class had presented to me? Well, perhaps I have finally gotten over that particular hurdle. I have decided that this shall be my belief: Life, evolution, and everything is about the journey, and not the destination. Who cares where you end up, as long as life happens along the way.  




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