Why Bother Learning from Getting Lost?

Why Bother Learning From Getting Lost?

I am directionally challenged which means I get lost easily. I’ve gone around circles while driving through cities, shopping in a mall, as well as hiking through the woods. My personal experiences with loss of direction have lasted for as short as an hour, to as long as a whole day.  But my disorientation has not been in vain because of what I’ve gained. 

    Stages of Being off Track

Drawing from my own history of directional confusion, I can vouch for the fact that there are three, possibly four, different stages we move through when lost. 

  First, we are surprised and ask ourselves, “How could I be lost?  Secondly, our disorientation may foster a sense of panic which then compounds our helplessness. Some people may also go through a brief stage of berating themselves for their mistake. Finally, we admit that we are lost and acquiesce to the fact that we need to find our own way, ask for directions, or wait to be found. 

How much time we spend in each stage of being lost varies. Since I’ve been disorientated  a number of times, I no longer spend time in the first stages of surprise, panic, helplessness, or scolding myself for my mistake. It has not always been this way, but one exceptional experience of wandering alone in the desert for a day, taught me to skip through the stages and immediately apply fortitude, resilience and certitude. 

My family had been boat camping on Lake Powell more than once, but one year I experienced my greatest trial of getting lost. The water level was at a lower point than any of the previous years and exposed more rocky canyons to camp in. 

Sharing a houseboat with three families which included a tribe of teenagers and preteens, sent me off the boat and out into the desert land that surrounded the lake each morning for a walk. I made it a point to walk east, and then waited for the most glorious moment of the day; the sun rise. Refreshed from a dose of solitude and quiet, I’d turn around and head west, back toward the boat. 

My plan worked well for three days until the morning when I couldn’t find the boat. I retraced my footprints back to the rock where I’d sat for the sunrise, and once again to where I thought I’d left the boat. But peering over the rocky ledge, I could not spot the vessel. I retraced my steps more than once, and chided myself for having lost my way. 

Kneeling down in the sand with only rocks and sagebrush as my audience, I cried out in panic: God, help me, please. Eventually, I brushed away my tears, stood up and assessed my resources.

 I had a water bottle, a granola bar, a ball cap, a journal and a pen. With resolve, I knew I’d  have to find my own way back to the boat. And so began my arduous, long and hot journey. 

I crawled up and over boulders, through sagebrush and over barbed wire fences. At one point, I stumbled upon an abandoned forest service building equipped with running water and a map on the wall giving me a sense of direction. After refilling my water bottle, I set out with a renewed sense of tenacity. 

Several hours later, the large vessel came into view. My family had feared the worst, and were somewhat miffed that I’d caused them to worry.  But they were glad to see me. I too was relieved and at the same time, sensed a personal victory. With grit and backbone, I’d succeeded with a lonely trek and relied solely on myself. 

Why bother to learn from getting lost?  Being lost brings out our courage, adaptability and confidence like no other adventure can.

Why Bother Living Courageously?

Why Bother Living Courageously?

As I tear off the cellophane of a brand-new calendar and place it on my desk, I am reminded of the freshness which comes with a new year. For the next three-hundred sixty-five days, I get to choose how to live my life. Though every day is a new day with precisely twenty-four hours, not every day is exactly alike. And though I can design a blueprint for my day, as I should, I cannot predict the unexpected. We are all aware of how unknown circumstances can redraft any of our best conceived ideas, or how they can redirect a well-established routine. When the small or large unpredictable variables present themselves, as they will, what keeps us on course?  

    Courage to Live our Convictions

Our society is ever changing. Just looking through old photo albums depicts how fashion fads have come and gone. On a more serious note, observing the social behavioral statistics of our day show that crime, suicide and divorce, are on the incline. 

If I were to set my standard for living according to our present societal climate, I would be tossed by the wind and sunk in no time. And if I do not want to be squeezed into a mold which forms me in a way contrary to my convictions, then I need courage to live contrary to the one of the general populaces.  

I am a collector of quotes and recently I read one which inspired me to live more fearlessly, and boldly. In essence it said that without courage, life gets smaller, but with courage, life grows more expansive. These words resonate with me. I know from personal experience that when I am afraid, fear holds me as its prisoner in solitary confinement. But, when I step away from real or imagined fear, restrictive living and thinking no longer bind me.

Courage is the capacity to meet danger without giving way to anxiety. To have courage is to wean ourselves from the habit of always overcompensating on behalf of another person’s uncouth behavior. We know when we are stout hearted when we can put our convictions into practice and speak our mind while staying aligned to our heart. 

Having valor does not mean we are vain. Brave people know when they are wrong, learn from their mistakes and ask to be forgiven when they know they need to. Tenacious people are less likely to live with regrets, and instead, live without them.

Why bother living courageously? It is worth it to practice valor since we have three hundred and sixty-five days ahead to try it on for size.

Why Bother Being Vulnerable?

Why Bother Being Vulnerable?

Being emotionally vulnerable is a good way to get hurt. It is also a good way to nurture and mature in the relationships that are important to us. Depending upon our personal history, previous experiences, or personality, laying ourselves open to others may be too big of a risk. We may have tried being vulnerable once before, but it resulted in rejection.  And who wants to set themselves up for another wounding?  Then there are those personalities that lend themselves to remaining emotionally out of reach to others. Some people prefer to insulate themselves behind cool walls of stone or to ignore any bids for emotional connections. Yet, daily, we have a choice to practice unmasking ourselves around others. When we do, we might find ourselves a little less anxious, a little more happy and a bit more at ease in the world. 

 Courage

I once heard that courage is not the absence of fear, but feeling the fear and doing it anyway. I believe courage is a main component to becoming an emotionally accessible and unguarded individual. None of us are exempt from injustices, broken promises, or wrecked relationships.  Anyone of us could tell stories about how we have been  wounded by another.  Yet, to guard ourselves from ever being misunderstood, misrepresented or even misguided again, is to also close ourselves off from what is possible. If we guard and shield ourselves from ever being wounded again, we also close ourselves off from the possibility of having good relationships, deeper connections or maturing emotionally. 

Recently, I have been shopping for a new primary care provider. My long term physician retired long ago and finding someone of the same easy going caliber has been an arduous journey.  When I stumbled upon a new medical service in town, I filled out some rather personal forms required for new patients. The questions that I was required to answer dug rather deeply into not only my medical history, but also into my mental and emotional past. I caught myself wanting to fudge on my answers, tell a little lie, or to not mention what felt unmentionable. It took a lot of determination to answer as honestly as possible. My first first appointment involved a face to face, in person, hour long conversation with the physician about how I answered the questions on the forms. The person I sat across from was emotionally accessible, friendly, courteous, and professional. In essence, they invited me to set everything on the table. I confessed some of the things I had omitted, amplified on others, and disclosed more to this person than I had previously thought I would. Yet, I knew that only when I spoke honestly, would they get an accurate picture of my wellness and my weaknesses. Holding back would have only resulted in misrepresenting myself. 

Why bother being vulnerable? It is worth communicating to others our honest to goodness selves. When we do, then we won’t misrepresent ourselves and we will feel a little less anxious, a little more happy and a bit more at ease in the world. 

Why Bother Thinking About Courage?

Why Bother Thinking About Courage?

Recently, I met a new group of women for coffee. Like me, they are all interested in hiking and taking backpacking excursions. Cass, the one woman I did know, had organized the meeting so that we could become acquainted with each other and plan some hikes.  

Something You Think Others Should Know About You

Getting our coffee and sitting down, Cass stared out, “I thought we’d all go around the table and just share with each other a little bit about our backpacking experience and something important about ourselves, something you think others should know about you.” 

It is always scary for me to be in a group of new people and I wasn’t feeling especially courageous around this group of women. I’m not at all opposed to making new friends, but I find more ease in sharing my heart when I am one-on-one with someone rather than in a group.  

I wasn’t sure how my backpacking experiences, little to none, would measure up with theirs. But, I sipped my coffee and listened as each woman shared their hiking and backpacking experiences. 

My friend Cass began by telling about the Idaho Centennial Trail she’s hiked in chunks over the last two years and how she’s learned to read topographic maps. Then Sarah from California, recounted her treks through the Sierra Nevada Range. Another woman who grew up in Peru, recalled with fondness the hikes she’d taken with her father. Jamie, a young mother, grew up experiencing the Sawtooth Mountains with her mother. Then Mona told of some of the trails she’s hiked including one named after her grandfather. Then it was my turn.

Though my experience with hiking and backpacking paled in comparison to theirs, I still envisioned walking trails, sleeping under the stars and seeing nothing but wilderness for a few days with these women. If I planned to share adventures with them, what did I think they needed to know about me?

“I’ve been married for forty years and I’m still in love. Cussing comes as natural to me as burping and I think and move in a concrete and linear fashion, from point A to B without meandering. I love hiking, but I have little to no backpacking experience.” The women nodded and smiled. I think that meant I was accepted. 

Meeting strangers takes some self-assurance, speaking one’s mind to them takes courage. Although we may relate courage to heroism, I’ve also discovered an older meaning for the word courage; to speak one’s mind while telling all one’s heart. Sharing our hearts in everyday ways is a stout hearted act of courage. 

Though I may not become a hero to any of these women while we hike, stepping between them and a bear or helping them cross rivers, I will continue to be who I am around them without fear. I will keep speaking my mind and telling of my heart. 

Why bother to think about courage? It is worth knowing the truth about yourself so you can speak your mind while telling others about your heart. The more you practice courage, the more courageous you become.