I have a pretty miserable sense of direction. When I am headed to a familiar destination, my car sort of goes on autopilot. I sometimes attribute this phenomenon to my mother, may she rest in peace. Afraid to drive on the highway, she knew the back way to everywhere. When I learned how to drive, we’d take a practice run beforehand. Drive somewhere enough times and you commit the route to memory. It’s sort of like practicing French verb conjugations or a dance routine. When I don’t know how to get from point A to point B, finding my way is a challenge.
When my mother moved to L.A., she learned how to navigate the freeways to visit her children and her granddaughters just as she learned to navigate radiation, chemo, and surgeries following her bouts with cancer. Life doesn’t give you a map.
My mother is no longer around to accompany on practice drives. I now have to rely on my GPS, at least for the first few times. My GPS and I are pretty tight. Still, I do get annoyed when my GPS decides to “recalculate the route,” advising me to “make a legal u-turn.” Whenever I head towards downtown L.A., I end up on the GPS scavenger hunt. “Take 101 South. Exit freeway. Make a legal u-turn. Take 101 North.” Do the hokey pokey.
Eventually, I end up at my destination or at least back where I started. And I’ve noted that life is filled with times when we need to recalculate the route.
Life is filled with wrong turns and temporarily closed on-ramps, mudslides and traffic jams. How often have you arrived late to a meeting or appointment because you didn’t allow for unexpected bumper to bumper? We’ve all cursed the moron applying mascara who stopped traffic with her fender bender. When we’re en route, we can follow the guidance of the GPS and take a canyon or surface streets instead of the freeway.
The journey is not usually what we expect. We start out dreaming of happily ever after. Experience can be the toughest of teachers. I have spent considerable time lamenting that my life didn’t go as I had planned. During and following a difficult marriage, I’ll admit I sometimes envied the people who were living the life I thought would be mine.
But, during the months since my divorce, I’ve decided to let go. I need to change my expectations. Definitions of success and fulfillment are static. Nothing is carved in stone.
Recalculating the route.