Get Lost (Every Once in a While…)

“Beep. Beep!” The church vans pulls up and I know for sure that if one particular person is driving the van that week, we were in for an adventure. Working on a weekly rotation, each driver offered a variety of excitement each week. Whether it was leaving a church member because they were taking too long to come out of their house or knocking off side mirrors of cars parked along narrow streets, each week was an experience. However, looking back on those times one person’s interesting driving taught me more about life than I ever realized until now.

This weekend I had the pleasure of attending a moving-away party for two very special people at my childhood church. Besides the million questions people asked about where I’ve been and what I’m up to now, it was a lovely event. I knew in advance there was going to be a “tribute” portion of the event, so of course I felt like I had to prepare to say something to this amazing couple (that has happened to know me since birth). Do you know how hard it is to capture everything you want to say about people you’ve known your entire life in TWO MINUTES!? Yes, we only had two minutes because the organizers of the event wanted to prevent a luncheon from turning into an all-night open mic night from 150 people. And to no one’s surprise, everyone spoke way past two minutes. But I digress.

As I thought about all the memories I had of this amazing couple — which are many — the church van rides stuck out when it came to David; it perfectly captures who he is. After riding in the van every week for years, I felt like I knew how to get to everyone’s house and how to drive despite having never set foot behind the wheel. If my 13 year old self ever needed to advise the grown-ups on directions, I was your girl. However, whenever David drove I was lost, confused, slightly scared, and very intrigued.

Confusing turns and back road adventures painted the majority of David’s weekly drive. Yet, somehow we always managed to efficiently and quickly reach the next destination. To avoid lights, get to the next destination with as little traffic as possible, he would take these back roads that my inexperienced mind never knew of. Turn after turn after turn, I was convinced we were lost and going to make it to church way past on-time. Whenever I felt we had taken too my turns to possibly be heading in the right direction, I either whispered to someone or publicly questioned — “are we lost?” David’s response ranged from “no” to “not quite,” but there was never a “yes.” As if he had branded a map of the city in his head, we would some how magically appear at our next destination. We never got lost… (that he every admitted)!

At some point as I got older I finally asked him how he knew all those back-roads. His answer: he learned them by joy-riding through the city and intentionally traveling down roads to see where they would lead. He would get lost but soon find that he would emerge onto a street that was familiar and could lead him back home. It was a sort of deliberate attempt to explore, get lost, and discover new things before finding his way again. What a risk!

Being older now, I recognize the strong link between his success, his faith, and his fearlessness — three essential factors of life. He was never afraid to get lost because, despite which way he turned, he had a strong confidence that he was never truly lost. Such a profound lesson and thought: (1) Be willing to get lost; you never know what successes, shortcuts, and opportunity you will find around the corner. (2) Don’t panic if you find yourself on an unknown street; the worst that can happen is you retrace your steps, ask for directions, or keep going until you see a sign of familiarity.

Reminiscing about these excursions made me think about the degree of faith and fearlessness he had to possess in order get to discover and remember these back roads. We have to ask ourselves — What’s out there waiting to be explored? Why are we so afraid to go off script? There’s something to be said about what he did — he explored when he had time and when “I wonder if I go down this road…” came to his mind. Thinking about his faith and fearlessness made me wonder — What if I take more time to get lost? What will I find?

I recalled the many times I was driving home from an event or store and thought “I wonder what’s down this street…” Overtime, I’ve discovered beautiful parks, neighborhoods, stores, restaurants, lakes, and shortcuts by  willingly getting lost every once in a while.

Most recently, getting lost helped me discover something beautiful and peaceful near my new apartment…

A35418E7-0BCC-48D2-B61F-C65D26159E1A

I arrived extremely early for the apartment showing and parked across from the building. Slightly bored and curious, I decided to see what the neighborhood had to over. To my surprised I stumbled across a private beach, the ocean, and close proximity to other wonderful places to explore. Honestly, the apartment alone didn’t sell me, but the neighborhood, water, views, and places to explore did. It taught me to trust God, life, and to never be afraid to explore; you don’t know what is around the corner, literally.

This probably is very underwhelming to you. Water. What’s the big deal? Well, I love to walk by water, see water (particularly the a beach or the ocean), and sit by water. There is just something very calming about watching the waves, wondering about the life that lives beneath, and enjoying a sunset reflecting off the subtle waves. It’s peaceful and makes me wonder about life, God, balance, and physical and mental relaxation.

 

 

Now if I can only do a better job of applying this to my goals and dreams; I wonder what I will find…

Related Posts:

On the Other Side of Fear

GPS: Shut Up And Fly

Picture Perfect Puzzle Pieces

Comment below or chat with me!

Follow The Life Me Blog on Facebook and Twitter
Have a Life Question, Need Perspective, or have a Discussion Topic? Ask me @ http://wp.me/P31EeG-hg

 

Lesson from Stuart Scott: Live.

I am not going to lie. My first reaction to Stuart Scott’s passing was “he didn’t deserve to die.” I didn’t venture far enough to blame God, but I was initially baffled. “But he fought so hard with such fortitude and faith, if anyone deserved to beat cancer didn’t he?” I thought about his ESPN ESPY Award acceptance speech and the two beautiful daughters that he leaves behind. It would have made the ultimate fairytale story – father beats cancer three times to live to hear his grandchildren say “Boo-yah” (one of this infamous commentating expressions). For me, it called human mortality into question: What’s the rhyme and reason to all of this anyway? How and whom decides who lives and who dies? In the first minute after hearing of the passing of someone that appears so full of faith, so full of life, so full of legacy, promise, and love, all of these thoughts went through my mind.

Then, in the next minute I started reflecting on the graceful way that Stuart lived after his cancer diagnosis. I thought about how he kept exercising, working, loving, traveling in a time in which I probably would have been on my knees begging for life, mercy, and healing from God. Or, I would have been in total denial about death and probably became some radical zealot that spent my entire waking time believing that God had already healed me. Okay, maybe I wouldn’t have handled it like that, but I am not sure I would have been as strong as Stuart; I want to believe I am that strong, but I really don’t know how I would handle being faced with death in that manner.

Then in the third minute, it suddenly all made sense. The feeling of defeat went away and I started to feel a sense of victory and honor. It was exactly what Stuart said: “When you die, that does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and the manner in which you live. So live. Live. Fight like hell.” Yes Stuart! You freaking lived man. You WON. Period. End of story. Guys, he won! Despite the trials of life (in his case, cancer), his outlook remained one in which he used every last moment to live, love, laugh, learn, and leave a legacy! What an honor. How many people can say that they made a positive difference in this world? How many people can say that their legacy is meaningful? I don’t know about you, but that’s something I think about sometimes – what will my legacy be when I die? Will I have touched people’s lives in a meaningful way? Will I have accomplished what I was created to do? I am not God, so I cannot judge how Stuart lived or if he fulfilled his purpose, but goodness gracious he sure set the bar high!

In my mind he died too young (age 49). I still have that underlying belief that people are supposed to live to see old age. However within that I ask, what is life if we live to be old and still accomplish nothing or very little? I am not sure but I still desire to live to be very old. Despite it all, death never seemed fair to me, yet the more I live and grow is the more I see that death is actually one of the only fair parts about life. Everyone dies. Everyone. The rich, poor, kind, mean, healthy and diseased, we all have a moment waiting when we will pass on. Yes, “pass on” because “death” seems too harsh, too finite. Since we probably live a life after earth (my hope), then death is just passing to another world where our loved ones are waiting to say “what the heck took you so long? It’s freaking awesome over here.”

I am not happy that Stuart’s journey on earth has ended, but I am happy that he lived such an amazing life. As of this point in my life, I cannot say that I understand the concept of life and death. If lacking the full comprehension of such a simple matter is not confusing enough, losing three students within the last year to tragic accidents (as recent as four days ago) has left me even more stunned about death. I am quite certain that if I were to ask each of those students how long they thought they might live, they would have said pass the age of 18 or 30 years old. After these losses, I have pondered a new question — for which I do not have the complete answer — what is more important, the quality of life or the quantity of life? I do not know, however, I believe that the two ideas are not completely separable.

In it all, there is one thing I know: how we live seems to be central to the concept of a fulfilled life. If we can make each moment matter and find meaning in each moment — even the good and the bad are lessons that lead us toward mastering and conquering life — maybe we too can win. Still alive? Then there is still time to live the life you were created to live. Haven’t been living? Then there’s no better time than the present, right?  In the words of Stuart Scott, “have a great rest of your night and have a great rest of your life.” In my words, Stuart Scott, I think you might have just beat the game of life without a game guide or a cheat code. This is what I call “Life Me.”

EPIPHANY: Purpose

Lately, I’ve been feeling happy but also quite lost. Positive, optimistic, and perplexed all at the same time. It is quite a strange feeling. I wake up very thankful and motivated for each new day, yet, somewhat unclear and anxious about where I am going. I’ve worked diligently at my career and accomplished many personal goals, but find that it’s time to tackle the many more that are left on my list. Simply, I am at a crossroads.

Being an analytic, imaginative, multi-talented person is in many ways a good thing. However at times, these traits often cause me to question what others around me rather ignore, fear and worry about things that are out of my control, dream about doing things that are seemingly unconventional, and the list goes on and on. Most recently, I have been feeling like I am in a box when maybe I’m supposed to be swinging from vines in the jungle in the sky. I always knew I could be free to do and be many things, but then what would my life purpose be if I did that? So, I chalked it up to being indecisive and settled on fulfilling my “purpose.”

From a young age, I’ve heard this word “purpose” more times than I would be able to count if I had hundreds of fingers on each hand. From books and magazines, messages from motivational speakers, sermons in church, or interviews on the afternoon talk shows, people were constantly saying that “finding your purpose” is the most important thing in life. I’m sure you’ve heard it many times… “you were created for a reason… to fulfill your purpose here on earth.”

You have no idea how exciting “having a purpose on this earth” makes me feeling and I still do believe each of us has one to fulfill. I was the person that meditated, prayed, read, and searched for my one “purpose.” I believed that there was ONE area, career, problem that I was supposed to solve, so I thoughtfully chose a career path, changed majors, dabbled in this and that and stayed open to the signs and confirmations that I was on the “right” path. In my search, I ran into a problem. I have many interests, many talents, and many passions, how do I know which one is my primary purpose and which is secondary? Add my analytic mind to complicate things and you have a recipe for many sleepless, stressful, anxious nights, and a whole lot of internal frustration, and at times sadness, because I have to find this ONE path that the universe wants me to take, and if I fail to find it, it might mean that I lived a life in vain.

So, after being on the path for a little while now, college, a Master’s degree, and many years of career, relationships, love, and fun behind me, I once again find myself trying to make sure my next “moves” are in line with my “purpose.” You see, my monkey-like, swinging from a vine in the jungle in the sky does not quite fit a standard black and white life path. I want success, money, purpose, and legacy just like the next person, but I can’t choose just ONE road to bring me all of that.

After talking with my Big-Brother-from-another-mother, he freed the little caged bird inside me and helped me find my PATH of PURPOSE. As we chatted about his life journey, he told me that contrary to what we both have been taught, he doesn’t believe we are meant to spend our entire life searching for this ONE purpose. Rather, we have MANY purposes along the ONE road of life. Many of us spend our life waiting for the one moment when we discover our purpose, and then when we find it, we spend the rest of our life doing that one thing, at that one place, with those same people.  That very well may be someone’s purpose, but it’s not everyone’s. Purpose involves things great and small and may even entail different jobs, different states, and many things we may not be able to foresee. As we walk our ONE road, our purpose unfolds. Our purpose lies in taking EVERY step we are meant to take along the way. Who knows, maybe we even create our purpose by following the passions and ideas that have been birthed inside of us.

I really wish someone would have helped me frame my thinking on this a long time ago. Yes, they say not to be “the jack of all trades and master of none,” but maybe some of us are meant to be great at a few, because one is too limiting for us. Maybe your purpose is to show people like me that the sky is the limit, that true faith can make dreams come true, and that success can be painted by the stroke of our own hand.

These are the lessons life has taught me in the last three weeks. Our purpose last our entire lives, so how silly of me to think I could figure it all out before I’ve even really started to live.