"I have never been lost, but I will admit to being confused for several weeks." Daniel Boone.
This quote tickled me when I first came across it and I was sorely tempted to write it off as 18th century machismo. But then my mind got churning on what it means when we say that we are lost. And, I suspected, that it would relate to something other than wandering through uncharted territory. Daniel Boone just might have been onto something here.
Unlike Mr. Boone most of us never open up previously unexplored physical territories. I think the last human to do that may have been Neil Armstrong. But the rest of us mere mortals are constantly exploring the uncharted territory of ourselves or, at least, we could be. And sometimes on that trek we feel that we may be lost. But what if, like Daniel Boone, we are only confused for a while?
How might we become "lost" on this most important of journeys of discovery? One way might be that we are given incorrect directions. Any time someone tells us who we are or what we should do or where we should go, there is the possibility of our losing our way. These helpful others may wish us well and be trying to help, or they may not wish us well and be trying to control, but, whatever the motivation, it is very likely that they are wrong simply because they cannot know our interior landscape in the intimate way that we do ourselves. And should we alter our course to accommodate their direction, we run the risk of becoming profoundly confused about our path, our identity.
Another way could be when we choose to ignore our own intuition and neglect to follow the signs we see along the way. Those "aha" moments that we shout down internally so as to make ourselves conform to what is defined as practicality. We stop ourselves from reaching for the stars because that would not be prudent and, thus, we put blinders on, shielding our sight from a better path for us.
Still another method is to follow only the established paths begun by others with the street sign labeled "THE WAY", whether that be the path of established rules of business, religion or society. By denying ourselves the opportunity to question and explore, we also deny ourselves the possibility to discover and celebrate our unique vision and expression of life, to be our true selves.
Granted risk taking is, well, riskier, but the sure things seem to give much less in the way of personal rewards and growth. The innovators of mankind, in every sphere of human activity, have always been those who take the risks, think outside of the box, and dare to be themselves. Our risks do not have to be grand, earth-shattering events designed to touch all mankind. Indeed, they most likely will take humbler forms, such as not saying "yes" when we really want to say "no". Or asking for what we really need in our lives, or opening our hearts to another so that we allow ourselves to be known. Reaching for what would truly feed our spirits does not mean that we will be able to grasp it all, but it might cut down on the periods of self-confusion and those sad feelings of having lost our way and our very selves.
Teacher Voices: Stewart Matthews - Here's another post in my continuing series on teacher voices. I'm interviewing some of my former students who have gone on to become teachers. In this po...
5 days ago