Monday, June 20, 2011

Get lost

I was driving home tonight from a meeting in a town I don't know very well when I missed a left turn. I was lost in my own thoughts and, by the time I realized I had missed it, I was quite a ways down a road I had never been on.

My first instinct was to turn around and head back where I came from and, this time, look for that turn. But I didn't. Instead I kept driving knowing that, at some point, I'd come upon something I would recognize.

Things do look different in the dark but as the Welcome-to-<insert town/city name here> signs changed things started to look more familiar. My heart skipped a beat when I guessed where I was and then saw the street sign to confirm it.

I've always had a great sense of direction. I have no idea where that inner compass comes from but I'm glad I have it. I'm also a little crazy because I enjoy getting lost from time to time. It makes me step outside of my comfort zone and check in with my instincts. Something I do less and less of in middle age.

When I was in the Berkshires for a few days with a friend last week, she directed me all over the area as I drove. She knows it like the back of her hand, where I'm almost never in that section of the state. Funny thing is, no matter how many times we travelled some of the same roads, I still couldn't figure out where to turn half the time. I told her that if I didn't have her as a co-pilot, I would already know my way. I'd have to rely on my own sense of direction and would be paying more attention to landmarks if I knew I didn't have a cushion.

It's been a bizarre six weeks since my mother died. The one person I could always count on to guide me is gone. And I've been feeling like I'm constantly walking on new ground. At my age, I haven't felt like I needed my mother in a long time. But having her there to listen has always helped me figure out what direction was right for me.

Feelings of uneasiness persist. Like there's an earthquake happening while my foot is in mid-air. Waiting for the ground to settle so that foot might find a stable landing spot. But every time the earthquake looks like it's stopping, more tremors arise.

All of my experiences are new ground now. Old traditions are now as new as new joys and sorrows. Because they're experienced without my mother.

The feeling I experienced tonight by missing a familiar turn was not new even though some of the ground I travelled was. I was never really lost even though it felt that way for a moment. In deciding not to turn around but instead forge ahead into unknown territory, I realized that I still have the skills I need to move forward. And that new ground is only unfamiliar the first time you step on it.

I will find my way without mom as I did on the dark, unfamiliar road tonight. My inner compass will guide me through wrong turns until I learn a new way to navigate. I will trust my instincts as I always have remembering that firsts are only firsts once.