Are we there yet?

I’m sick of ‘the journey’. I’m like that annoying six-year-old in the back seat whining, ‘Are we there yet?’

Where? I hear you ask. To a land where the word ‘journey’ may no longer be used in polite company. In this land, should you utter or write this word, soap and water or a writ will surely come your way as night follows day.

Once upon a time, ‘journey’ was a respectable workman-like word, deriving from the distance travelled in a day. But I’m afraid this fit-for-purpose word has been elevated way above its station and tragically overused. Sadly, it’s picked up a lot of baggage along the way, becoming over-burdened with sentimentality and gravitas to the point of exhaustion.

It’s time for ‘journey’ to be put out to pasture for a while to graze among other similarly abused and exhausted words. I’m thinking here of some personal non-favourites, ‘trope’, ‘facilitate’ and ‘utilize’. I’m afraid ‘leverage’ and ‘pivot’ are right up there too.

How did ‘journey’ fall into such a desperate situation? Until the likes of celebrities started bandying it about, a journey was simply a trip from a to b. Somehow thanks to reality television and rampant over-use this humble word has become suffused with a hero’s suffering – more akin to the journey on the road to Damascus or perhaps Homer’s Odyssey.

‘I’ve learnt so much on my journey,’ declares the latest overwrought singing star (substitute any reality television participant, recovering drug addict, celebrity chef, wellness guru).

The awful thing about words like ‘journey’ and other horrid words (like American ‘butt’ for bottom) is that they seep into the language like some sort of noxious run off. At first, they’re unremarkable but pretty soon the stench is overpowering and I just want to taser the next person who mentions their amazing (awesome, life-changing) ‘journey’.

The thing that sucks the life out of all words is either abuse or overuse and sometimes both. In this case journey has been stuffed with corn and overly dramatic hype, then used so often in tearful confessions and reflections that it becomes meaningless and hackneyed.

And don’t we humans love to travel – on a spiritual journey, holistic journey, breastfeeding journey? Just take any qualifier and add the word journey and it will elevate whatever you’re describing to heroic proportions – my scrapbooking journey, my journey through tinea, my incredible irritable bowel journey.

Some authors obviously believe the word journey will give their book title depth and reverence: Of Mystics and Mistakes – The Journey from Confusion to Clarity, from Error to Enlightenment, from Self-Deception to Self-Discovery. Kill me now.

Why can’t people be a little more imaginative? Let’s get creative and bring back the colour. You could just say, ‘I’ve come a long way and I’ve learnt a lot!’. Or what about, ‘This whole experience has been a real trip.’ Admittedly you’ll sound like some sort of acid-affected hippy throwback, but at least it’s a colourful expression. And if you’ve come a really, really, really long way, then, frankly, it’s an expedition you’ve been on.

So forget the journey folks. The Buddhists got it right: ‘If you are facing in the right direction, all you need to do is keep on walking.’

Trust me you’ll get there.

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