My company had its annual summer outing at the Nashoba Valley Ski Area, and on my way home, I decided I didn’t like the route the Google Maps app on my iPhone was suggesting (i.e., Route 2).
So, I opted to go back home the same way I got to Westford: By driving past Walden Pond and through the ‘burbs, by my office, and then onto 128 and the Pike (or up Trapelo Road, if there was traffic on the highways).
I thought I knew where I was going.
I was wrong.
After I passed Walden Pond, I made a wrong turn or two and ended up God knows where. Frustrated, I kept refreshing the route on my app, thinking I knew where I was and in what direction I was headed, and each time, it told me I was headed in the wrong direction and the time it would take to get to my destination was longer.
So, I decided finally to trust in my app, and follow the now-new route it suggested, which required me to turn around and back-track a bit.
Eventually, after driving through Concord, Wayland, Weston, and some other towns, after passing by a farm (cows!) and some stores and places I wouldn’t mind returning to on purpose, I arrived in a most familiar place: the intersection of Main Street and South Street in Waltham.
How I got there, I have no idea.
But knowing exactly where I was at that point, I made the turn onto South Street, drove by my alma mater (Brandeis U), and headed for home.
In the end, a drive that should have taken me just under an hour took me about 75 minutes. Not so bad. I wasn’t in a rush to get home anyway.
It occurred to me as I was driving that the situation I found myself in, aside from being all-too-regular, was a significant (and not exactly subtle) metaphor for my life — and maybe yours too.
In life, we often know what our destination is, and we think we know the best way to get there, no matter what anyone else is telling us. So we divert from a prescribed route, ignoring advice and guidance, and as a result, we get lost.
Being lost can be a scary proposition for some because you’re out of your comfort zone. But being lost gives you a new sense of perspective. It produces opportunities to see new places and things, ones you might not have experienced otherwise.
Getting lost on the way to a destination, while it can be frustrating, is not a bad thing. Yes, it may take longer to get there, but the experience can make you stronger and more confident, as you learn you can find your way, and can get there on your own.
Getting lost is humbling, because at some point you have to admit that you are wrong, and have to go back to where you came from (at least part of the way, anyway).
And it must be said: Not everyone gets to the same place in the same way. This is okay. There are multiple ways to get somewhere.
It’s nice to know that help and guidance is always there, in the form of Google Maps or other resources (and people), but sometimes, if I find myself lost (due to my own wrong turns), I like to embrace it, and try to figure out my own way to the destination.