What you’re about to experience is an extraordinary truth dressed in quite an ordinary story. It’s actually a DIY classic. Pick any given day where you have a few hours to yourself. Once you’ve cleared your schedule, there’s only one thing left to do: get lost. Like physically, lost. Specifically, a “there is no way I’m ever going to find my way” kind of lost. Oh, and then, you need to find you way. Sans Siri. Hence, the need for a few extra hours.
Sometimes it almost seems like we do things that purposefully make us dumb; for the “efficiency” of it. If I am in any shape or form a reflection of the times that we live in, there is no way you can get me to happily read a map. Place it in my hands and you might as well have plopped me in the pilot’s seat of a 747. Too many buttons, levers, lines, symbols, (pressure) and simply not enough time! Look, I don’t want a mental puzzle; I just want to be told where to go. The whole concept of trying to figure out where we are going, feels so antiquated, when technology is made to spoon feed us the “right” way to do things.
Whether it’s our local deli or our life’s meaning, could we truly have forgotten what it feels like to gladly search for something?
Let me refresh your memory on the phenomenon I speak of: Elias wants to get to point Y. But he doesn’t quite know how. The only navigating tools available to him are his eyes, heart, gut and mind. Elias, was my grandfather who like many people back then, defied epic life restrictions. He made it out of tiny village in Northern Greece on foot, donkey and who knows what else. He then miraculously continued to earn a degree in medicine, in the United States, without coming from a family of means or connections. There was no right or wrong way, there was just a way, a way that he alone had to walk and figure out.
How do we as a generation answer the great questions placed before us? Or rather, who do we love to task with answering said questions? In a few words: someone else. This thing called Google. A catchy word that means absolutely nothing and yet has somehow become the go to for nearly everything. One quick pressing of a button and, “problem “solved”. And by problem, I mean the heart of any good movie, aka the story, the challenge, the process of our life.
The “process” of finding our way has always taken the back seat to the more glamorous “destination”. Yes, while we write about it, glorify its mystique in our book club or writing class, at the end, it’s mostly, well, all about the end. We like to fast forward to….she published a best seller! He beat cancer! We, then, gather our pop corn and mountain dew and gloat in the feeling of someone else’s victory, until we’re hit with the pang of the dreadful process we call our own life.
So, who wants to go in circles, pull into gas stations, cry at stop signs, meander through back streets, and spend a total of 2 hours “getting there” when it could have taken a mere 20 minutes?
Well, me, I guess? That’s exactly what I did, and that’s exactly what made me realize that maybe finding our way is more about the finding than the arriving.
I’m not going to lie, while at times utterly frustrating I think all women secretly love that guys don’t “need directions”. It’s a very simple way of saying, “I’m going to figure this out”, (even if that means we are missing our first born’s college graduation.) Stubbornness comes with the territory of figuring it out, I guess. Even if it is true that men are more hardwired than women to take risks, forge ahead and rely on their instincts, that doesn’t mean that the rest of can’t take our hand at playing with the devil, right?
On my two-hour journey across self-doubt and true Taurean determinism I discovered the following:
1. Ask people for directions and everyone somehow has a difference sense of North and South, aka “the way”. I honestly probably spent about 45 minutes trying to figure out how to follow someone else’s instructions rather than rely on my own sense of direction (or lack therefore) Keep this mind when asking others for “advice”. Chances are, you probably already know what to do.
2. Red lights are for crying. Yes, after wrong turn number 2084736, a few tears were in order. Upon releasing the shame, I wondered “gee, what was all that about?” I mean, okay, so you suck at following directions, but is that really why you’re crying? And the answer is no. I felt helpless, like I couldn’t figure something out on my own. It was more a sense of fear than sadness. I turned up the radio and made turn 2084737.
3. Somehow I found myself on some rural backstreets with really interesting little cottages. Their simplicity made me forget about my stress for a bit and made me wonder about the people that lived there and what they were having for breakfast. Don’t starve and drive.
4. To spare you the motion sickness, I simply kept going. I kept going until one turn after the other I arrived at 421 Thank you God Lane. I was obviously late, but no one even cared. It was only 10 past 10 in the morning and my day had already been made.
I hate to draw comparisons between humans and machines but the truth is that if you turn something off for a few seconds it will work much better. For every wrong turn and disappointment, I simply had to press the reset button located in my heart and brain. A few moments of deep breaths, stillness and faith is all we need to activate the creativity needed to get us to the other side of whatever our difficulty is.
What could make this story even better? Why an “omg is that a jerk chicken place”? of, course. As most great endings to any struggle we tend to forget about the simple law of action and reaction, struggle and reward, reaping and sewing. My sign that I’d done a good job: a big plate of home-cooked Caribbean food. In the middle of nowhere.
We have the all answers. The secret is to keep going.
This is for my pappou who passed on today at the age of 98. The man who called me his "golden one" and who was the living embodiment of finding his own truth and having a grand ol' time while doing it.
Σ αγαπώ παππουλη.