I heard a story today. A friend was out for a walk with another friend of hers, at a public park. This is a large park, nestled between some major highways, but from within you can hardly tell. You can barely hear the cars driving past, just outside the perimeter.
They set out to walk, circling the outside of the park, a wooded trail. They made it around in about a half-hour; the weather was unseasonably beautiful and warm, and they decided to loop around again. At one point, my friend noticed that they had passed the same tree two or three times, and still hadn't found the entrance back into the park, where the car was parked. Around and around they walked. The other friend said, "don't listen to me, whatever direction I say to go , do the opposite." They tried every which way, back and forth, and still couldn't find their way off the path they were on. Finally, they saw a fence with an opening, and managed to squeeze through, arriving on one of the highways. Once there, they continued to walk, still not knowing which way they were headed.
Confusion, fatigue, and darkness set in.
Still they walked. They approached a traffic light, and my friend approached a vehicle.
"Excuse me, can you just tell me where we are?" He did, they weren't that far off course, and they eventually got there, facing more problems, like the park being closed. They found the car but the gates were locked.
Serendipitously, a park ranger, driving around with his headlights on, spotted them. He opened the gate. They both got home safely.
I couldn't help but notice, while hearing this story, that it is yet another microcosm of life. These are the moments, I feel, where we get to dig in and see how we really tick.
The next time you find yourself lost or fatigued and frustrated, whether it's on a road trip, out for a hike, or just in the daily course of this adventure we call life:
Dig deeper, take a breath, check in with yourself.
Who are you walking with?
Do you trust their judgement?
Do you trust your own?
Are you listening to yourself?
Do you know where you are going?
If you were stranded for a reason, what might it be?
Is there anything to see, learn, observe?
Whom would you ask for help: a stranger, would you pray, would you wait for a sign?
When would you stop looking?
I think we are blessed with so many moments like this, and as we dig deeper inside ourselves, as we expand and grow, we see them more and more. Tiny, everyday trials to help us search inside ourselves. And to remember, it is all a journey.
What a gift to be able to recognize those moments and grow with them. This is why I use the term "zoom out" so often. When you have a narrow focus, you can only see what's in your field of view. If you zoom out, you can see so much more that might help you see and decide what comes next.