Thursday, January 31, 2013

Recalibrating

I really like the navigation software on my phone. When I make a wrong turn, without any judgement it finds me the next best route from my current position. If only I could be so neutral when I make a wrong turn in life. But there is one thing the navigation software keeps me from doing that I have come to treasure: getting lost. This may seem obvious, but getting lost for a bit has yielded some of my most treasured experiences. 

During one of these “lost” periods of my life, I struck up a friendship with a man who introduced me to the art of orienteering. I say “art” because once you understand its significance on a philosophical level, well, it’s life-changing. Traditional orienteering is a footrace where the participants use a map and compass to go point to point to reach a final destination. According to Merriam-Webster, these footraces became popular in Sweden in the early 20th century, but I had not heard of them when my friend handed me a torn piece of paper with walking instructions and compass readings. 

Photo by Kathleen Keagy
I found the whole process unbelievably frustrating because I had no idea what the destination was. I had to go point to point or I would get lost. Well, not too lost. We were standing in an open grassy area surrounded by rolling hills to the east and sandy bluffs that led to the Pacific Ocean to the west. At times, I felt like I was walking in circles and retracing my steps. Eventually, I found my destination. Although I can’t remember at all what the destination was, the experience stayed with me.

As a clairvoyant, I see a lot of pictures for what is possible. The challenging part is getting there. To get to that picture way out in the future, you have to travel point to point on the earth. As my teacher Kris Cahill says, you can work the energy of the picture out there, but you can't live there. You have to stay grounded in your body doing the day-to-day work to make that picture real. It’s not the work I mind; it’s the speed. I’ve had to make peace with the fact that having a body means I need to sleep at nighta tall order for someone who loves working in the wee small hours of the morning. But the other frustrating thing about getting to my picture is that it does not progress along a straight line. It’s more like orienteering, where at times I look around and wonder if I have completely lost my way because the picture I set out to create is nowhere in sight. Or I feel like I’m going around in circles and making no progress at all. 

But when I think of the great stories of discovery, they are filled with such moments of being completely lost. Sometimes we do need to double back. Sometimes we feel like we are going around in circles. Sometimes we press on and find something we could not have imagined when we set out for the journey. And sometimes we are led to exactly the place we imagined (but not without employing an enormous quantity of faith along the way).

For the moment, the shortest distance between me and my hoped for destination is putting one foot in front of the other, and recalibrating along the way. I’ll see you at the dive restaurant I find on my next wrong turn.