Thursday, January 30, 2014

Getting Lost

It stinks when you lose your direction. I remember one time walking with my boys through a local state forest, and we got lost. It wasn’t an especially scary episode of wondering why we forgot extra layers, or snacks (or a whistle, or matches, or a foil blanket). But still, lost ain’t fun. We found our way eventually; luckily it was not a catastrophe.

How to Get from Here to There
Another time I was trying to meet some friends at a restaurant in an unfamiliar city. This was before cell phones and GPS. I tried to follow some loose verbal directions, and got horribly lost. I gave up trying to find the restaurant, and was now desperately looking for the highway back towards home, which was more difficult than I had anticipated. Obviously I lived to tell the tale, so there you go.

But sometimes getting lost ends up being a good thing. Challenges in navigation end up teaching you more about where you’ve been, which is not a bad lesson. My husband used to purposely get lost when we first moved to our town, just so he could learn the secret side roads and other hidden treasures.

More often though, the sensation of feeling adrift and disconnected is too unsettling. Adventure into the unknown is fine for Captain Kirk, but I know I could with a little less “...boldly going where no man has gone before”, and more “please follow highlighted route.” Getting lost makes me uncomfortable, damn it!

Added to my discomfort is the new and constant refrain that tells me in order to grow and succeed; I need to stretch outside my comfort zone. I need to push past my original boundaries of where I think my talent lies, towards projects that might not be that easy.

I agree wholeheartedly with this idea, but sometimes I don’t know if I can do it. When you are lost, you need certain tools like a compass, flashlight, and map. For the kind of disorientation I have been dealing with, the tool I need is confidence.

During most of December, and a good part of January, I’ve been down. Depressed. In a funk. Lost with a capital “Where the F#*k Am I?” The good part is that I could pretty much identify not only the actual depression, but the roots. It all made sense, which is quite heartening. I don’t mean to gloss over this too much because emotional issues, in all their manifestations, like depression – should be taken seriously. But this wasn’t that horrible.

 And this realization was effective, because I have been able to take a bit of an objective look at something that’s typically very subjective. And then make a plan. While I don’t have a map of where I’m going specifically, I do have some tools:
 Best Laid Plans

  1.    My brain
  2.    Trust in that brain, maybe?
  3.   A Mind-Map of where I’ve been, and where I am right now (seriously, this helps).
  4.    Nanakorobi yaoki – a Japanese Proverb that means loosely, to “fall seven, is to rise eight.” I’m going to fall again. And I’m going to have company. And we will all rise again.

Knowing you are part of a larger group of like-minded people is crazy good. I’ve got my family (and extended family), my friends, my church, I’ve got the network of the American Liver Foundation, and I’ve got the friends, colleagues and compatriots through the Copywriter CafĂ©.

It’s this last group that I am depending on more right now, because many of them are going through similar challenges. Some are further ahead, and some might be behind, but the sharing of ideas, successes and disappointments is simultaneously comforting and stimulating.

So, on we go. Meet me in the car.