Sunday, July 25, 2010

Navigating Yourself on Life's Roads

Life can be a tricky existence most of the time. It's something we're not given a map or a GPS for. Often, we just happen to discover its roads and decide to take one that will lead us into somewhere and something we can't quite see yet. It would be nice if we somehow had a blueprint already drawn out for us, revealing where each road starts and ends and how they all interconnect to form a method of navigation. Nice and easy, yes. Fun, adventurous and spiritually beneficial, no.

Two months ago I decided to drive myself around a city I hadn't visited in thirteen years and quite frankly, had never had the personal experience of driving in. Prior to my little adventure, I had let my parents do it. I was either too young for a license or under 25, which meant that I was too much of a liability in a city with some of the country's worst drivers. I even declined the rental car company's offer of a GPS system because I thought $16 dollars a day was a little steep, even for a girl with too much money on her hands. Besides, I had to pay the hotel $22 a day for valet and every city parking garage known to man. Not to mention, I was a little cocky. I figured if I had navigated myself through Florida's roads, traffic and crazy out of their mind drivers, I could handle this-even with nothing but a cheap, obscure rental car map.

That over-confidence, wherever it came from, turned out to be right. Yes, I got myself out of LAX's compound to the hotel, survived the 110, I-5, PCH, the 105, a bunch of side streets in Culver City, downtown Los Angeles, a scary round-a-bout in Long Beach, an even scarier Century Blvd, and most of all the 405. Now, if a "tourist" can navigate herself off a freeway closure due to some crazy bank robbers, through the backroads of Long Beach and back onto the 110 to the hotel, I'd say that's pretty damn good. Especially with nothing but that obscure rental car map. Did I use it to figure out how to get to all my destinations that week? Hell no, we have MapQuest to thank for that, but I carried it with me as a back-up. Just in case crazy bank robbers decided to try to outrun the police on the San Diego Freeway the day I had to be in Irvine. A girl can never be too unprepared.

So, the entire time I'm driving this huge SoCal conglomerate of roads, observing the "courtesy" of my fellow drivers and some of the "interesting" scenery, I'm thinking to myself, piece of cake. Why do people even complain about this? This isn't anything I haven't seen or dealt with before, right? Sometimes intuition gives us that "full-speed ahead" cockiness for a reason. Life's roads have already prepared us for the next one we're about to find ourselves on.

Those intangible roads we're presented with, the ones we can't really see anywhere but in our imaginations, force us to choose. At times it can be scary to pick one over the other. Sometimes we're in the midst of traveling on one and wonder why we feel so lost, alone, unprepared, ridden with anxiety and helpless. Some of us find ourselves on one, sooner or later, that makes us feel exhilarated, on top of the world and ready to pinch ourselves until it abruptly comes to an end and we have no choice but to go down a narrower, unattractive path.

The funny thing about life's unseen roads is that wrong turns are sometimes the only way you can get to your destination. No matter what path you choose, how many types of roads you find yourself on or how many you have to get on and off to reach your destiny, the end result is the same-you reach it. There are just some of us who have to learn our spiritual lessons more than once in order to finally "get it." Stubbornness can be a great asset, but I speculate that the "other side" likes to have a little more fun with those of us who are. Regardless, we learn what we came here for.

We shouldn't let fear stop us from choosing a certain path or wonder why we're on one that suddenly seems dark and uncertain. If we take the time to reflect, we'll realize that they're all helpful lessons and preparation for what we'll need. They're all connected-a sort of chaotic circle that doesn't really end in a pinpointed destination, until the day that we choose to stop traveling.

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