During our travels over the recent spring break, my family apparently diagnosed me with “a poor sense of direction”. I mean yes, I missed a few exits and a few turns. But with the navigation system on (we call her Vanna) and in full effect, I always knew we’d get there despite my mistakes and missteps. I knew Vanna would “recalculate my route”. All I had to do was know where we were going and be willing to drive on, no matter what. She would handle the rest.
The technology these days is amazing. I don’t know if I’m allowed to admit this in the Commonwealth of Virginia, but Vanna even alerted us to “speed traps”. Whether a cop was there or not, her heads-up was a reminder to check my speed and slow down. She even told us of pile-ups or delays ahead, providing options to divert us around bad situations. Her focus was solely on getting us to the goal, to my chosen destination, but always leaving the choices up to me. I’d say we made a great team.
My husband used to say that we should be able to choose the navigation system that suits us best. He joked that his would be Mr. T so that when he was on the wrong track, Mr. T would say, “turn around fool!” Whoever your navigation system is, you have to be able to trust him/her/it, and know that no matter how turned around you get, there is no need to panic. He/she/it will help you get back on track. No need to jump medians or dangerously traverse lanes of traffic. If you miss a turn, there is always another way to get there.
But as we journey through this life, how do we know our destination or our purpose? Answering that question can be an important first step in experiencing satisfaction and fulfillment. To know that you matter and have a place in this world is so important, especially with the many potholes, road blocks, and yes, speed traps along the way. Life can be particularly challenging, so to know why you hit the road in the first place is critical to being willing to stay the course.
One way I’ve learned to clarify purpose is to think back to the age of 5 or so. Try to recall what you wanted to be when you grew up. For most of us, age 5 is before we’ve been too encumbered with the world. At this age, we believe in possibility and have not yet been fully exposed to the impact of judgement, or assuaged by the value of money. We are motivated to simply be. Often willing to just be who we truly are with little worry, concern or fear.
For me, I wanted to be a teacher. If I consider the characteristics of teachers, I believe them to be knowledgeable, loving, giving, fair, sensitive to others, engaging, patient, and resourceful. And at age 5, I thought they lived at school and never went to the bathroom. That last part, I don’t know if that still applies, but the rest I stand by.
While I am not a teacher, their characteristics are aspirational to me. For each of us, such reflection can assist us in knowing in what direction to move, and can inform our chosen destinations and goals. If we are moving toward the identified characteristics, then we are likely on the right track. If not, then it can be a clue that we need to “re-route”.
No matter your destination, enjoy the ride and drive safely.