Life inevitably involves many changes in direction. Some of these we have no control over, but for those that we can direct ourselves, clarity is hugely important to us. We get to a fork in the river and we want to know which way to steer. We want to know what the consequence will be of choosing one way over the other. We want to make the right choice.
If they cannot see far enough down stream, some people panic, frozen in indecision until they crash on the island in the middle. Others follow the boat in front, assuming they know where they are going, which may or may not be the case. Others get their map out. I have always been hugely impressed by these people.
If you have a destination in mind, whether that is a brilliant career in medicine, retiring at 35 as a millionaire, or simply getting to a beach you’ve never been to before for a stroll along the sand, maps are great at clarifying how to get from A to B. However, they do need a person to spend time and thought creating them, and they need constant updating to reflect the world as it is rather than as it was when the journey started. They also require a person to know exactly where their point A is, which requires a certain level of self analysis, honesty, and often self compassion.
True clarity is a rare thing in my experience. Much of the time my own approach has seemed like paddling along life gawping at the scenery, randomly bumping into things along the way, many of them of them welcome, others not so much, and sometimes getting bruised in the process. When I was younger I felt like I was the only person without a clear destination in life and a perfect map to get me there. These days I realise that everyone feels like this sometimes.
The difference between one person and another is perhaps frequency. How often the light suddenly shines on the next part of the journey with a glorious ‘Ah ha!’ moment. How often we are brave enough to ask the hard questions to shed that light. How often we slow down and quieten enough to notice those smaller moments of clarity that could add together to give a beautifully clear map of at least part of the journey.
Some people are better at using maps than others when navigating life. And sometimes we all have to accept that we are in totally uncharted waters. These are the times that we need to trust that the right way to go will become clearer as we get closer to the fork. Go with your gut. Go with the flow. Keep moving along on your journey. Sometimes the journey is more important than the destination. And you can bump into some great things paddling about gawping at the scenery.