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Consider a simple map. The paper kind that you have to unfold and feel you’re your hands, not an electronic GPS map. When you take a map and spread it out across a table, or the car hood, you get a proper view just like a navigator of old unfurling a chart.
There before you are every route, every destination, and every potential obstacle that may throw you off course. Run your finger across it and you touch mountains, hills, rivers, and forests. In an instant, your hand can span miles. In a glance, you can understand the entire kingdom.
A map is a form of magic, three dimensions distilled into two. To use it is to know the names and directions of all the places on your journey. In that knowledge is power. For a good map is a permanent guide, a perpetual set of bearings and a perennial charm against being confused, unsure and lost. A true map will keep your feet on the path and your ship off the rocks, but only if you know how to use it and only if you’re willing to learn.
For all experienced navigators and travelers of old, the most important and magical part of the map was in the lower right hand corner. There you would find an ornate figure aligned to the cardinal directions and the primary winds. This was the compass rose that showed true north and allowed you to find the bearings you needed to get back home.
Now, a confession. I am not a navigational whiz. When I fly into a city and rent a car, I’m that woman in line in front of you tapping her foot in nervous anticipation, giving off waves of frenetic energy. Then, when I’m on the road and make the inevitable wrong turn, I’m on the phone to my husband, a half a country away, asking him to tell me where to go rather than breathing deeply and retracing my route to a familiar point. There is a long-running joke among my family that I couldn’t find my way out of a brown paper bag with a compass and a high-powered flashlight.
A drive I had to take this past week to Miami for an early morning appointment is a perfect example of how directionally challenged I am.
There I was, in the pitch-black, pre-dawn hours, battling rush hour traffic, detoured by road construction and delayed by crazy drivers around the Miami airport. It was an ugly situation, highly stressful, and it pushed every button that I have about my ability to navigate life. I was panicking because I was late. I was angry because I was lost, YET AGAIN! I was frustrated with having to deal with my apparent inability to get from point A to point B without calling search and rescue.
It Was Time For My Big Girl Panties
Near tears, I pulled the car over. I badly wanted to call my husband for directional guidance, but I wanted to find the way on my own even more. It was time to pull on my big girl panties and stop my internal compass from spinning. I pulled out my phone, figured out where I was, and what the best route was to my appointment. Breathing slowly and deeply I pulled back into traffic. Fifteen minutes later, I was there.
On the drive home, I had plenty of time for reflection. I realized that over the decades I’ve breathed so much life into this false belief of being directionally challenged that it’s grown into a behemoth. It’s become so large and so much a part of what I believe that I’ve learned to hide in its shadow, more than willing to let it undermine other areas of my life as well.
I saw that this belief had also made me uncomfortable about making decisions, and less-than-gracious about making mistakes. It turned out that because I believed that I was directionally challenged, I came to second guess my overall wisdom. I became reluctant to follow my inner compass. Instead of forging ahead, I was terrified of not being able to find my way back.
The universal truth is that we are never lost. Never! The road signs may be confusing. The shoulder may sharply drop off. It may rain so hard that for moments your visibility is eradicated. You may feel whipsawed by life’s black ice, unable to find firm footing. Yet, day always follows night, and support is always closer than you may believe.
Victimized by False Beliefs
I know that beginning again isn’t easy. Finding your way to a completely authentic life after years and sometimes decades of following a false belief - allowing yourself to be victimized by it - can stretch your very resolve. There will be difficult times when you believe that your old habits were easier. Yet, sheltering in a lie doesn’t make it true. All it takes to embark on this journey is direction.
When you feel stranded in the wildest of places, apparently lost, your map still remains spread across your chart table, showing the way. If you remain present and follow the compass rose, you will see the path. Even when you choose to take an intriguing detour, it will always direct you back home.