Lessons from being lost
June 14, 2013
It is a bright, chilly day and I am going out into the forest near my house in Wiltshire to deliberately get lost. To wander paths that I have never walked before and listen to what the quiet, wise voice of nature has to teach me about myself. My key lesson today – the fear and joy of getting lost. Here are some of the lessons that came to me as I wandered through the trees and sunlit forest open to listening and learning and remembering.
Lesson 1 – ‘Sometimes on the paths of life, there aren’t signs where we expect them to be and Sometimes there are, it’s just we’re not looking for them’
When we travel consciously through our challenges and lessons, it is easy to feel afraid of getting lost in the jungle of life. When we are starting to feel like we are in uncharted territory, places we have never be to before, we start to look for signs that can point the way for us. Whether we want to be pointed towards ‘the right decision’ or the ‘easiest path’, it is human nature to want to be told where to go and what is the best thing to do. Sometimes however, there are no signs. Sometimes, we are asked to continue onwards in faith and trust, believing in ourselves as we put one foot in front of the other. Sometimes we need a lack of signs to be still and hear our own deep intuition.
On the other hand, as humans, we also have a habit of becoming incredibly narrow in our focus. Looking and seeing only what we want to. Filtering out the majority of the world in favour of the elements that we can understand. Sometimes, there ‘are’ signs there for us to be guided by but we need to develop the eyes to see them. They don’t always appear in the form that we expect but if we can remember to stop and look for them, they are there nonetheless.
Lesson 2 – ‘Sometimes we think that the great unknown is a lot bigger and scarier then it turns out to be, when we gather our courage and we forge out on to a path that we don’t know. Quite often by walking that path despite what our fears may tell us, we find ourselves in completely ‘known’ territory. In the home of our own self, knowing that we are never lost. We are always found’
The unknown is naturally scary. It is uncertain and we more often then not cannot control it. To feel fear of this is natural. To continue anyway is courageous. It is a common trick of the ego to make us rigid with fear so we are paralyzed and want to stay within the safe boundaries of our comfort zones however, when we break free and move forwards anyway, often we find that the ‘unknown’ is not only safe and exciting but actually a new flavour of the ‘known’ to us. We remember the feelings of excitement and ultimate freedom that come with feeling our fear and continuing regardless. This is true human spirit and the only road home to our soul.
Lesson 3 – ‘Sometimes when you are lost, there is nothing else to do but keep walking until you find what you are looking for’.
Action speaks louder than words. Movement creates momentum and new outcomes. When we consciously ‘know that we don’t know’, sometimes the best policy is just to keep putting one foot in front of the other until we find the path or the lesson we are looking for.
Lesson 4 – ‘And then sometimes, just as we get complacent and think that we know the world and have it within our control, the world opens up again to reveal itself as much larger then we ever could have possibly imagined. Not in a scary way, but in an eye opening way. Our comfort zones are smashed and yet we are excited to go explore again into the unknown’.
My ego is constantly trying to make itself feel safe by telling me I ‘understand’ the world around me and ‘know’ what is going on. The truth in wandering and getting lost is that just as we think we know, we discover that our ‘knowing’ was far smaller and simpler than we thought. The world has a habit of widening just when we think we have things under control. Far from being scary, this allows us the opportunity to laugh once again at our human self and start walking once more as an explorer into the unknown. To accept that we never truly ‘know’ anything and that that life is a constant game of striking out into wider and wider territories.
Lesson 5 – ‘Sometimes it is enough to just know that I am ‘somewhere around here’. Not to know exactly, not to have to need to know, but to know that when I do need to know….I will’.
When we feel we are ‘in the right vicinity’ of where we want to be, we can let go a little of the worry of being lost and enjoy the ride. Look around us and notice life happening under our noses. When we follow our intuition about which direction to take, the confidence of being ‘pretty much on track’, allows us to find the hidden pathways and see the right sign just when we need to. When we walk in trust, we are able to feel safe no matter where we are.
Lesson 6 – ‘The trees gently remind me of what this is really about. It’s not about how far we go or how accurately we chart our progress. It’s not about whether we ‘make it’ to our destination or whether we receive some grand vision that inspires us. It’s actually just about exploring. Playing. Wondering at the beauty of life. Seeing the connection between all things and knowing, truly, we are never alone. If we can do this much every day then we have fulfilled our ultimate purpose’.
So often our ego tricks us into thinking that it’s all about the destination. That it is ‘how fast’, ‘how rich’, ‘how much’ we can get. This is the cause of much pain and suffering in the world and the human psyche. How often are we told that it is about the journey not the goal? That it is about how well we travel our path not what we get at the end of it? When we remember this in every cell of our being, every step we take is full of joy and wonder. We can look around and feel life pulsing under each footstep. We are complete and enough right now, no matter where we are going and where we have come from.
Lesson 7 – ‘Sometimes we think we are in new and uncharted territory. We think that we are forging new roads and finding new ways and yet then we recognise it. It seems strangely familiar. We realise that we have come right back around in a circle again and know exactly where we are. Life is like this. Our habits and patterns of being can spring on us out of our unconscious so we are completely unaware that we are repeating the same old shit over and over again. Walking in circles on our path. The key is to recognise when you have hit a crossroads where you can choose either way. Do you want to choose to walk the same circle again or perhaps find something new? The choice is always our as to when we break the cycle’.
Life is tricky. Old habits die hard. Sometimes our ego tricks us into thinking that we are making new choices and creating new circumstances in our life only for us to find out that we were actually operating from the same old beliefs and patterns of thinking and behaving as before. Quite often, this realisation that we have travelled this road before comes late in the process when we are well underway into another life journey. Whether these cycles refer to our relationships, our careers, our hobbies or way of interacting with the world, it is up to us to recognise when we are at a point when we could break to cycle and choose something new. As Einstein said ‘insanity is thinking that we will get different results by repeating the same patterns of thinking over and over again’. To get new results, we need new thinking. It is up to us when we jump on to a path less travelled.
Lesson 8 – ‘Sometimes at the beginning of a journey or a challenge, we think to ourselves, there is no way I am ever going to complete this. There is no way I will ever find the energy or the motivation or the strength of will to come through. Yet by taking one step at a time, by turning the next corner now knowing if you will finish or not, suddenly you find yourself having completely everything you set out to do and it not having been nearly as hard as you thought in the first place’.
We often make up stories based in fear of the unknown that go along the lines of ‘why start when I don’t even know if I will finish’. ‘Why bother even trying when it is uncertain whether I will do it in the way I want to’. These stories keep us locked in our comfort zones if we let them. They keep us in the stasis of the ego, trapped in fear of failure. True freedom is knowing that whether we finish or not, real winning is trying anyway. Often when we focus on trying and on taking one step at a time, we find that the ‘finish’ was not what we expected. We find that we actually tackle the challenge with an ease and grace that we never expected to have. Often our success surprises us and we see that our stories were just that… Stories.
Lesson 9 – ‘In those moments when you think that you haven’t got the strength or the courage to carry on and that you will just retreat back to the safe paths that you ‘know’ will get you home, you decide to ‘just climb the next hill’. ‘See what is over the top’. ‘Trust your instincts’. And when you do, you see that you were on the right path the whole time. That moving forwards it not only safe but exactly where you wanted to be and where you want to be going. Trust in yourself and in the sprit of life moving through you is ultimate. When you are ‘in trust’, you are completely ..you. You are one with the world. You are always on the right path’.
Trust is the super hero power that we all crave. It is the foundation for all success and from it springs all of life. Would animals in the harshest of conditions reproduce and search for food if they didn’t trust that life would provide for them? Would humans overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles, keep on going, trying and finding new ways to overcome our challenges if we didn’t ultimately believe and trust that life has our backs and everything would ultimately be ok? Trust comes from our own deep inner knowing that we are connected to all around us and that when we remember this, we always know what to do and where to go. When we forget to trust life, we fall into fear. We allow our ego to create stories based on ‘what might happen if’ and if we listen to them then we are trapped in illusion once again. Moving forwards in faith requires courage. It requires that you trust the universe will take care of you and lead you. It requires that you remember the truth at the core of life which is, that we are already safe, already home, already on the right path no matter where we choose to wander.
Lesson 10 – ‘I guess the main question is, do you accept your own unique adventure? And if you accept it, are you willing to enjoy every single step through the forest of life. Because if not, then actually, go ahead and accept someone else’s dream. Accept the dream of society of who you ‘should be’ or your parents, or your teachers or your friends. Accept their adventures which ultimately will never lead you home’.
This one is complete and needs little more explanation besides an invitation from life.
Accept your path
Heed your own call to adventure
Listen to the whisperings of your soul and
Trust deeply that as you have the courage to follow your path through the forest, you are never alone….never truly lost,
And you will always find your way home.