Sunday, March 23, 2008

Lost? See U-Turn.

photo by Inky Bob


Ever since I started driving, my terrible sense of direction has become a running joke among my friends. Knowing this, they usually give me a lot of leeway about being late whenever I am required to drive from unfamiliar point A to unfamiliar point B. This is because it's rare that I arrive without greeting them with my usual rueful, "I got lost."

I find it strange that once I get behind the wheel, I automatically set myself up for getting lost. I'm a pretty intrepid commuter on foot, honest. Set me loose on in a new (albeit English-speaking) city armed with a map, and I have no trouble getting around. It's usually just when I am driving that I get into trouble. I have so many direction-blind driving fiascoes that it will take all day for me to share all. Suffice to say, if you've ever been caught driving up a main thoroughfare against ONE WAY traffic completely unawares, then we are kindred spirits. My meandering journeys around Manila are so common that it becomes more of an event when I find my destination WITHOUT losing my way.

Because it happens so frequently, I've developed a certain elan about getting lost while driving which some people find disconcerting. I adopt the philosophy, "It doesn't matter if we're lost, there's always going to be a U-turn somewhere down the road." (This is usually said with a broad shrug and a smile that would put Pollyanna's to shame.)

Given the cost of fuel nowadays, this attitude makes my gas budget sky-rocket considerably. But I've learned that it takes me less time to find my way when I don't stress about it too much - and when I don't try to rectify my mistake by getting into another unknown side street and getting caught in traffic and more lost than ever.

If only taking U-turns in life were just as easy! It wouldn't be so hard to make decisions with the thought that you can always go back to where you came from if you don't like where you find yourself. That the only cost of getting lost is the cost of a few more gallons of fuel than usual. (Environmentalists will lynch me for this metaphor, but you know what I mean, right?)

But with Life being as complicated as it is, every decision has irrevocable consequences. You can never really go back to where you used to be - because everything at your point of origin changes the moment you leave. And your presence in any destination, no matter how transient, changes something there as well.

Sometimes I wish I had a magic compass and a map that would point me in the right direction every time I had to make a major decision in my life. But in the end, the only time anyone ever knows if they chose right is in retrospect - that is, if they are given the answers even then.

As I spend this time in my middle-of-nowhere, I realize one lesson I have yet to learn: to face life with the same equanimity as I face getting lost on the road. With the faith that no matter how uncertain the future seems to be that I will always end up where I am meant to be. That while Life may not allow me perfect U-turns, I will always find my way to where I belong.

In the meantime, I meander on without map or compass and hope that I find my way soon.

* * * *

Just a Post Script I wanted to share:

My friend Honey, another of my single sisters, wrote a post for me at her blog, Amazing Space. Honey is a lawyer, an awesome writer, chief wanderlust, and Beloved of God - and I've always said I wanted to be her when I grew up.

Yes, sis, here is to not settling. Even in my worst moments, hope - though small as a mustard seed - will always spring eternal. Amen. (We really, really have to get together for that coffee soon!)

Okay... I'm off to prepare for one of those weddings I told you about! I hope I don't get lost on the way...

13 comments:

ian said...

Such an insightful post! =]

Driving is such a liberating experience, bumps and unscheduled meanderings notwithstanding =]

and as long as we let Someone More Knowledgeable Than Us take the driver's seat- the ride may not always be smoother but your shock absorbers will make rough roads feel like NLEX nowadays =]

bon voyage! =]

Happy Easter!

Manggy said...

I totally agree, Ma'am-- and, if I may add, as long as (I) have faith, I know that God'll not let me fall into a truly hopeless place (hmm, reading it now it seems kind of circular or self-fulfilling-- faith=>hope).
Congrats nga pala on your job offer! I'm so happy for you!

dr_clairebear said...

@ian: one verse on my to-live-by-list: "Be still and know that I am God." instructions that are easier heard than followed! spiritually, i'm more lost than ever before... it's one U-turn I'm still having a hard time finding.

@manggy: thanks! how was your trip? are you back? :) hope you had a great time. faith/hope = actuality ... but it's the equal sign (in between) that means waiting that's always the hardest to deal with!

Vanessa said...

What a wonderful post! You have no idea how timely this is in my own life. I always go by the mantra, don't be afraid to choose, if you don't like what you choose, you can choose again. Not quite your U-turn theory, but can be applied the same.

Completely unrelated, I see you are a fellow fan of QuirkyAlone! YAY for QA's and our adventurous spirit!

dr_clairebear said...

@vanessa: thanks for the visit! :) i am adding you to my frequent stops list... i always like meeting up with fellow QAs and hearing what they think about the world. it helps me climb out of the bitter barn where one inevitably falls every now and then. :)

i have yet to muster the courage to try things with the appropriate Zen, but i hope to grow into it someday. ;P

lazarus said...

thanks for the visit and the greetings. i'll be back here to read more. :) very nice blog you have here.

evilwoobie said...

When you're in a rut, just remember the goal and your self-belief will fly you to it. :)

Panaderos said...

"But with Life being as complicated as it is, every decision has irrevocable consequences. You can never really go back to where you used to be - because everything at your point of origin changes the moment you leave. And your presence in any destination, no matter how transient, changes something there as well."

I don't have anything to add to what you wrote above except that I love how you put it for it's so true. Wise words.

Thess said...

hello doc!
your reply to Ian caught my attention the most...one verse on my to-live-by-list: "Be still and know that I am God." instructions that are easier heard than followed! spiritually, i'm more lost than ever before... it's one U-turn I'm still having a hard time finding.

My exact state right now. I pray that we both find the way back, soon!
AND thanks for showing me SAGE, adorable!! thanks for remembering...a pug's face always brightens up my day =)

take care, and enjoy the new week (^0^)

Mari said...

"we don't cross the same river twice."

i'm a scaredy cat when it comes to driving. the only vehicle i know how to drive is the gokart. not sure you if you could even consider gokart as a vehicle :)

Talina said...

Loved the post!!
We all need to learn to face life with the same equanimity as you face getting lost on the road...

Everything happens for a reason, sometimes the route and perhaps the scenery are undesirable but we ultimately end up where we are meant to!

rommel said...

You only get lost because you actually go out and venture. You'll never get lost if you stay in the same place. Take your pick which is better? :-)

Hey - thanks for dropping by mysite. Leave a trace next time ;-)

dr_clairebear said...

@lazarus: thanks for dropping by! i look forward to future discussions! :)

@woobie: ruts are very difficult to get out of, specially when you're resistant to change - like me! ;P

@panaderos: thank you for that lovely compliment. :)

@thess: don't let that adorable face deceive you - he's the same evil dog that ate my iPod!

@mari: driving actually fun once you get the hang of it, that is, when it isn't traffic!

@talina: i think all of us on the journey called life experience this at one point in our lives, in one way or the other. :) glad i touched a chord in you.

@rommel: will do. :) thanks for the comment. you're right, and the sentiment brings to mind the adage - nothing ventured, nothing gained!