I opened my email this morning and read a short metaphorical tale from Great Work Provocations:
Laurence Gonzales wrote a book called Deep Survival. He says that people who are lost in the wilderness go through 3 phases.
- Deny you’re lost and carry on as before (but with a greater sense of urgency).
- Realize you’re lost but look – with a hint of desperation – for evidence that might prove otherwise.
- Finally, deteriorate into panic when you realize there’s nothing familiar.
What determines if they survive or not is whether they acknowledge the situation (lost!) and recalibrate to find new information, knowing the old maps are now redundant. Where are you in the cycle do you think, O traveller?
Sometimes we have a plan, a map, and we are attached to following it precisely. The only thing is, in order for a map and compass to be useful, you need to use them the entire time. The point of the map and compass is not so much to find where you are when you are lost but to keep you from getting lost in the first place.
There are times when getting lost is fabulous. And I am a firm believer in the road less traveled. But even when I am lost or wandering off the beaten path or challenging my comfort zone, I know that denial, desperation and panic won’t enhance my journey. I need to know and accept where I am. I need to trust that I have all I need to continue my journey. And then I need to decide how I want to move forward. Because no matter how much I wander, I won’t need to be completely lost, lost from my true self, if I occasionally check my compass and map to orient myself to the things which matter most to me.