Modern proverb: Life is a journey, not a destination (1920)

Dan Goncharoff thegonch at GMAIL.COM
Sat Sep 1 15:44:35 UTC 2012

What Emerson did say:

To finish the moment, to find the journey's end in every step of the road,
to live the greatest number of good hours, is wisdom.

Moreover, in popular experience, everything good is on the highway.

Essays, Second Series
II Experience


On Sat, Sep 1, 2012 at 3:26 AM, Garson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at>wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Garson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Modern proverb: Life is a journey, not a destination (1920)
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> Life is a journey, not a destination
> The expression above is often attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson. It is
> listed in the Dictionary of Modern Proverbs (DMP) with a first cite in
> 1941 (unconnected to Emerson.)
> Cite: 2012, The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs, Compiled by Charles
> Clay Doyle, Wolfgang Mieder, and Fred R. Shapiro, [Phrase: Life is a
> journey, not a destination], Page 142, Yale University Press, New
> Haven. (Verified on paper)
> There is a snowclone with this template:
> X is a journey, not a destination
> DMP contains entries for some other members of the snowclone, e.g.,
> Success (Accomplishment) is a journey, not a destination; Education is
> a journey not destination; Happiness is a journey not a destination.
> I was asked to explore this topic and was able to make some progress
> on a few of the expressions. The QI blog now has an entry here:
> Here is part of the information in the entry:
> In 1920 a periodical called "The Christian Advocate" printed an
> instance of "life is a journey and not a destination." The phrase was
> used by the theologian Lynn H. Hough within his outline for a Sunday
> School Lesson discussing a letter from Simon Peter.
> Cite: 1920 February 19, The Christian Advocate, [The Sunday School
> Lesson: Conducted by Lynn H. Hough: First Quarter - Lesson IX -
> February 29, 1920], Quote Page 266, Column 2, The Methodist Book
> Concern Publishers, New York. (Google Books full view)
> [Begin excerpt]
> He wanted his friends to realize that life is a journey and not a
> destination; that the heart must be set upon those matters of
> character which are eternal and not upon those matters of sensation
> which pass away.
> [End excerpt]
> Garson
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