I need a map!

As anyone who knows me well will tell you I have no sense of direction. I can follow directions but I don’t have that innate ability to know which way to turn or which direction to walk in. I go into shops and then forget which direction I want to take on the way out so I have to stop and look. I lose my car in car parks unless I actually take notice of where I leave it and give myself landmarks to look out for so I can find it again.

Earlier this month, just for fun, my friend K and I went on a navigation course in the Pentland Hills. It’s not going to help with my sense of direction but it was a fun day out and something different to do. Our group was made up of my friend and I, one couple who were maybe in their twenties and the trainer. The girl from the young couple was from Canada originally and had done some navigation at school. The rest of us were complete novices (except the trainer of course) – navigation isn’t normally a big part of the curriculum in Scotland (beyond compass points and grid references anyway).

Our trainer was called Lucy and in my mind she was like the female version of Bear Grylls. She told us stories of her expeditions (yes plural!) to Antarctica among other adventures. She had some interesting descriptions of how to pee in a jar inside a sleeping bag and then sleep with it all night so that it didn’t freeze! 😆 She was pretty cool. We met an old man not long after we started out who seemed pretty keen to join in with coaching too. He told us how to use your watch to work out where North is using the sun. It was kinda cool but none of us actually had a watch and I can’t really remember what he said now. 😝

So the point of the day was to learn about how to use a map and a compass to navigate your way around the hills. We had a quick training session before we set off and then spent the rest of the day setting bearings and pacing out certain distances, looking for clues in the landscape to find ourselves on the map and calculating how long it was going to take us to get from one place to another. We also had to navigate some unusually aggressive Highland Cows on the way. 😬

K and I finished up the day with a lovely walk along Portobello Beach and a nice meal in one of the restaurants there. It was a really enjoyable experience.

I had a couple of days last week where I felt a bit stuck and I was thinking how useful it would be if we could have a map and a compass for life. I’d love to be able to find myself on the map and look at the contours of life and work out which direction I should go in. It would be amazing to be able to look ahead to your destination and set a bearing for the most straightforward route there – avoiding the steep slopes and narrow ridges. I wonder if I’d had a map if I would have chosen to take the journey I have through life? There are some wonderful things (summits if you like) in my life that I wouldn’t have achieved without going through some pretty rough places. I guess life isn’t about getting to your destination the easiest way. It’s often about what you learn from the journey and the lives you touch on the way.

If you had a map of your life would you have chosen the path you took? What would have changed? When you look back are there times that were difficult that have turned out to be something wonderful? I’d love to hear your thoughts – let me know in the comments.

8 thoughts on “I need a map!

  1. First off, your excursion sounded like a fun adventure! I suspect it forced you to be ‘in the moment’, which we all need to be doing more of! Your thoughts on having a map for life raise an instant conundrum for me. So often, when I share the story of a particular valley in my life and people feel sympathy for what I’ve endured, I find myself shrugging and saying something like “but it helped shape me into who I am today, and I like this person I am.” Did I make some mistakes I wish I could erase? Hell, yes! But if I learned lessons from those mistakes, then were they really mistakes? Right now, I’d really like a map on how to deal with aging… or at least a guidebook of what is ‘normal’ to experience as you age and what are things that are calls for attention.

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    1. Yes those are my thoughts too. If it helped shape me then was it a bad thing? I could do with that guidebook about ageing too. I’m only at the start of that journey really but it would be good to know what to expect. Mind you if I knew what to expect would it seem too daunting?

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  2. If I could change the map of my life, would I? No, because despite the hard parts, and there have been some doozies, I’d be afraid I would change something else like the kids I was blessed with or my husband. After many years pursuing a masters degree, I have a wonderful job as a result.
    I also travel and have a great group of friends. I’d be afraid of losing all that if I tinkered with my map.
    The hard times I’ve been through: depressions, health scares, disappointments, and loneliness, have all given me perspective. When you’re in the bogs of life, it’s difficult, smelly, and lonely. However, when you get though it, it’s relief. Hopefully, that experience helps you to appreciate the good times. 😊

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  3. I would not change the direction of my life. Everything I have been through has made me who I am today. I have learned a lot from the trials, tribulations, joy, and perseverance in this life. It has allowed me a new set of eyes ones that have compassion for all walks of life. I think even in my mistakes, God purposed them for good. I came up stronger, and more aware of what I needed to do to get my life together in Him, with Him control. Progress rather than perfection, and always a work in progress until I draw upon my last breath.
    Also I have a terrible sense of direction too!

    Liked by 1 person

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