Bloggers’ and YouTubers’ apologies for not recently posting are unnecessary and boring, in my opinion, so I’ll skip the regrets and excuses.
Speaking of social media, however, here’s a word you may be noticing as much as I am: journey. Influencers are on a fitness journey, or a weight-loss journey, or a decluttering journey, or a recovery journey. I just now saw a sewing-machine shop website, which suggests you begin your journey with sewing classes. Furniture refinishers are on a restoration journey.
There’s nothing wrong with all these journeys, except that once you start noticing the word, it gets annoying. This is the nature of cliches. Instead of listening to the speaker, I start thinking, “You could say process, maybe, or adventure, or experience. How about undertaking or experiment?” Share your own creative substitutions in the comments.
Journey, like many cliches, began as an original and vivid metaphor. Think about the first time, for example, someone said she was head over heels in love. How startling is that image? Love turns you into Simone Biles spinning around upside down!
Except it’s not startling any more. It washes over you with no effect, because you’ve heard it so many times. The metaphor journey is the same. Originally, the word implied that your new venture felt like traveling, like you’re getting somewhere. Now it just sounds hackneyed and pretentious.
Journey itself has had an interesting journey through Western culture. The root is the Latin diurnus, meaning “daily,” which came from dies, meaning “day” (as in per diem). This evolved into the Old French word jornee, meaning “a day’s travel.” Journey, then, is related to the soup du jour on your menu and the journal in which you confide daily thoughts about your spiritual journey.
Interesting that journey by its very root once connoted a brief jaunt. Now it implies a longer voyage (or a rock band). Like a trip to the center of the earth, or like Sheila Burnford’s incredible chronicle about two lost dogs and a cat finding their way home. No longer a day trip, journey implies long and arduous effort, like, well, fitness, weight loss, and decluttering.