Today I read a striking paragraph near the end of a little novel I just finished, Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos:”…I’d figured out that a real life didn’t mean attaining my heart’s desire, but knowing it, meant not the satisfaction, but the longing. Knowing what you love and why, I found out, is as real as it gets.”The love story had some unexpected twists and turns, and the protagonist–Cornelia–gets much more than she could have imagined after facing some heart-wrenching disappointments. Her quotes above are her first-person summary of what she has learned about herself through both the disappointments and blessings that have come her way. And they caught me off guard, with a different angle from the many I had considered about what truly makes for authentic living.I am de-constructing the sentences even as I write this:”A real life didn’t mean attaining my heart’s desire…””…But knowing it.””Not the satisfaction, but the longing…””Knowing what you love, and why…is as real as it gets.”So much of this screams counter-intuition, counter-culture, anti-consumerism. Illogical. Isn’t life all about reaching the goal, securing the prize, winning over that person you desire, landing the job, getting the book contract…all of the accomplishments by which we measure ourselves or are evaluated by others in terms of what constitutes a “successful” life…and yet, when this wife and mother of two writing this book allowed Cornelia to share this observation for her readers, it resonated with my soul and made sense.There is something deeply alive about gaining clarity. On your values, your passions, your niche customers, your preferences, your strengths…and your loves. There is boundless integrity in making sense of love and being willing to feel and hope even if you are not guaranteed some semblance of satisfaction or reciprocation.And there are no guarantees, are there, even for whom or what you hold loosely in your possession at this very moment?The bottom line: Cornelia’s quotes are another twist of the adage, “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” Self-awareness, self-understanding–these are wonderful stops along this sojourn. Too many of us rush past them to grab hold of the fruit of the destination, only to realize that it doesn’t agree with our taste buds.Do the hard work to learn what you value or love and why, and you’re much more likely to be in the ballpark of actually attaining it…but the learning itself is the ultimate joy, which the end results–gain or loss–can never take away from you.