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 To Build Stamina?

Why Bother To Build Stamina?

Whether competing in an athletic event, beginning and finishing a project, sticking with a commitment to a relationship or maintaining long-term goals for personal improvement, we need staying power. Quitters never finish. Instead, they become envious bystanders wishing for the inner strength they see in others and at the same time, lack in themselves. 

Stamina is Built, Not Inherited 

Anyone can build stamina and you don’t have to join a gym to do it. Stamina, whether mental or physical, is constructed bit by bit over the course of our lifetime. No one is born with heartiness. Nor is it instantaneous. Instead, we develop a fortitude for life as we set big and little goals and then move in steady motion toward them. Every time we encounter an unexpected obstacle and refuse to quit, we build more resistance to setbacks. The inevitable bumps, temporary inconveniences, and stressors that strain our endurance actually become the needed training that strengthens our courage. 

During my years as a triathlon participant, I kept a rigorous training regiment—running, swimming and biking. Unbeknown to me, I would need this mental and physical grit while taking a family camping vacation on Lake Powell. 

Every morning I took a walk from our houseboat out into the surrounding desert to watch the sunrise, being careful to watch where I was going so I could find my way back. That year, the water level was unusually lower than normal and created deep canyons that concealed even the largest of houseboats. One morning, when I retraced my footprints, I could not find the boat. Even though I retraced my path more than once and peered over the edges of cliffs, I still could not put my eye on our boat. 

At first I panicked, then I calmed down and opened the day pack I always carried. I had a full bottle of water, a ball cap, and a granola bar. Because of my rigorous training for a triathlon, I was at my physical peak and with the resolve of a competitor, I told myself that I had what it took to find my way back to the boat. After six hours of trekking through the desert to the other side of the lake, I climbed back down to the water, the boat, and my family. 

We never know what awaits us along this journey we call life, but we can expect the unexpected will happen. When circumstances seem to thwart our passageway, we can assess our resources, refuse to panic and choose a different route around the obstacle. To live and finish well, life requires us to stick-to-it no matter what. 

Why bother to build stamina? It is worth it to build endurance so that whatever we start we will have what it takes to also finish.

Why Bother With True Grit?

Why Bother With True Grit?

I admire the character Mattie, in the book and the movie, True Grit. When her father is murdered, she sets out to avenge his death. First she hires a gunman, Rooster Cogburn. Then, a Texan Ranger, LaBoeuf, also offers his services in the hunt for Chaney, the murder. Cogburn and LaBoeuf do not expect Mattie, who is only fourteen, to go along with them as they head out on their horses, but she will not be left behind. Although Mattie has no idea of the dangers awaiting her on this journey, she mounts her horse with more grit than either Cogburn or LaBoeuf. 

Tenacious Commitment

The story takes place in 1870, when women were generally recognized as more tender than tough, and whose role mainly involved running a house on a homestead, not using a gun to revenge a murder. But Mattie was determined to do what she believed she needed to do, in spite of the opinions of others. Mattie’s greatest virtue was her grit, or the resolution of follow through. She butted up against attitudes of patronizing men, the raw hatred of outlaws and near death experiences. Yet, she did not back down. By the time her journey ended, Chaney was dead and she was still alive. 

Though I have never needed to avenge anyone’s death and women are no longer viewed within the narrow confines of the 1800s, grit is still a necessary virtue in anyone’s life. People still make commitments and our pledges, either to ourselves or to another, will be tested. If we do not believe in what we are doing, or if we do not trust our decision, we will not have the staunchness it takes to complete what we have begun. Self doubt is worse than the meanest gunslinger. 

 Mattie’s success did not depend entirely on her talents. She could not shoot straight, and riding a horse did not come naturally. The only thing she had going for her was her passion for the mission. She knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it was her job, and no one else’s, to avenge her father’s death. Knowing this truth about herself, gave her the dauntlessness she needed for her success. Understanding what she had to do gave her focused confidence and supplied the fearlessness she needed to keep going even when circumstances loomed against her. In her quest, Mattie faced the naysayers; outlaws and condescending men. She also stared down the dangers found in nature. And she won.

Why bother with true grit? It is worth finding our true grit so that we can face our naysayers, whoever they might be and move out on our journey with resolve like Mattie’s.