Things won are done; joy’s soul lies in the doing.
The other day I was watching a television series which, at the beginning of each episode, had a voiceover announce “Previously on…” before showing a string of clips to recap all the important plot points in the past few episodes.
If you just watched those clips at the start of each episode and skipped the episodes, you could still get the whole story arc and save a heap of time. You could essentially “finish” the entire series in less than an hour, have the satisfaction of knowing what happened in the end, and have time left over for delicious froyo.
Obviously nobody would do this (we’ll leave the froyo out of it for now) because the joy is in watching the show, getting caught up in the cycle of building and releasing tension, seeing just how everything transpired and why the characters did what they did. The pleasure comes from the watching of the story, not simply the finishing of the story.
Jonathan Haidt puts it like this in The Happiness Hypothesis (check out Derek Siver’s book notes):
When it comes to goal pursuit, it really is the journey that counts, not the destination. Set for yourself any goal you want. Most of the pleasure will be had along the way, with every step that takes you closer. The final moment of success is often no more thrilling than the relief of taking off a heavy backpack at the end of a long hike. If you went on the hike only to feel that pleasure, you are a fool.
Unless there is froyo at the end of that hike.