Maneuvering Through Life

I had two of my grandsons Granny Buck Shopping awhile ago. Grampa’s schedule must have been chaotic and they didn’t want to wait for the two of us to coordinate with them. Guy things aren’t exactly my forte. I had to quit buying LOML his fishing lures because evidently fish don’t bite on the cutesy, colorful lures and spinners that drew my attention. If I’d have thought about it, I could just have bought two of the same kind and then I would have had a pair of earrings when he didn’t use them. Hindsight.

These boys wanted to go to Ogden, which is okay. I’m familiar enough with the “regular” stops. It didn’t help that it rained almost the whole time but I even handled that quite well…considering. However, I am not….I repeat NOT….cut from the same cloth as cab drivers or bus drivers or tour guides. I have no internal compass. Well, maybe I do but it doesn’t sync with getting around in the real world. But I was doing okay.

Then I heard them.

Two boys whispering in the back seat.

“Did she just make another U-turn?”

“Yeah!”

“Have you ever been with anyone who has made this many U-turns?”

“No, I don’t think so!”

“I think she’s made five now!”

Defending myself was fruitless. Even when I tried paralleling my lack of navigation skills to life and how U-turns are allowed and grace and forgiveness are given and the destination is finally arrived at, I knew my words of wisdom were falling on deaf ears.

Yep. Probably not a Life Lesson that is embedded in their teenage brains but I tried.

And I did find Chuck-a-Rama and Sportsman’s Warehouse and the mall. Eventually.

Since then, I’ve tried to use the technological advances to compensate for my lack of navigation skills. I’ve tried almost as many map apps as I’ve tried diets with pretty much the same results.

One I tried was called “Map My Walk”. My idea was it give me a visual that could possibly help me with directions and such. It was kinda fun looking back over the day and seeing this crazy red line of a journey that I’d been on.

Shortly after downloading “Map my Walk”, I took a short solo hike in the mountains which went south really fast when I got fascinated with a Momma Grouse and her babies. Just like a child with no common sense, I followed them and watched the Momma’s techniques for trying to save her babies. When I looked up, I had no clue where I was, which direction I’d gone, when I’d turned right and when I’d turned left. I remembered the app had been running so I pulled out my phone. My hopes were high. This was going to be my savior allowing me to make it back to camp before anyone knew I was missing; let alone knew I was lost.

But what I saw might as well have been hieroglyphics. The app did what it was supposed to do. It showed me the direction I had gone but invariably, when I tried to retrace my steps and get headed in the right direction, I failed. Miserably. I would turn the complete opposite direction needed. And then the red line of my route got knots in it and sharp switchbacks on top of switchbacks. I was indeed making a mess. And it just kept getting worse. It’s like I have a directional dyslexia that continually keeps blinders on me, interfering with my sense of direction.

My journey started at the green dot and went up. The straightest of the lines was the journey after I found my bearings.

It’s frustrating. It’s frightening. It makes me feel dumb. I feel like I need a little pouch with bread crumbs in it whenever I walk outside of my yard boundaries so I can leave a trail to be found.

On one of our family camps a few years ago, we went on a couple of hikes. The second hike wasn’t that big but the kids saw a cave and wanted to hike to it and explore.

We’d already taken them on one hike – the first hike and a long hike – where we were misinformed about a beautiful meadow for playing and picnicking that was at the end of the trail. We finally ran into a rock mountain and had to turn around. We were all let down.

Trusting children. Expecting to find exactly what we told them would be at the end of the trail.

As wise and aged adults, we tend to accept – I don’t know if I’d call it disappointment – but we’re used to things not always working out the way we planned at the onset. Sometimes we forget to help our children have experiences where the outcome is not as planned…so they can learn it’s still okay. Maybe even better. Maybe not. But we make the best of it and move onto the next trail.

Given this particular situation and the amount of children with various personalities and dispositions we were dealing with, we honestly owed them a shorter, more encouraging fun hike. Hence the second hike.

The kids raced right up the mountain. Straight up the trail. My theory is that kids can do that because that’s all they see – the road in front of them. They haven’t got a brain full of garbage and baggage demanding their attention and causing distraction from the main goal.

Looking up to the cave.

Most of the other adults shot right up the side of the mountain, too. A couple of the moms chose to stay behind – they had no desire to make it to the top. Me, on the other hand! Well, you know I have to be a pain! I wasn’t going to be left behind so I started my ascent. Did I mention it was a S…L…O…W ascent?

Looking down from the cave

I’m Grandma and older and many of my parts don’t always work as originally designed or there’s pain. But that’s okay. I welcomed and appreciated the love and respect and caring of an outreached arm to steady my step, steer me on a safer path or keep me from toppling over and rolling down the hill.

It took me awhile to get up but I did make it. Obviously I couldn’t make it up the well-traveled path. Way too straight up and dusty and slick. But that’s my life. Always taking the little harder way. Everything is a recipe; a project; a major undertaking.

Maybe that’s why I understand my firstborn, Nathan, more than he knows. I admire and respect and covet the ones who find making the right choices and staying on the right path easy. I empathize and relate with the ones who take the rocky path.

My theory also is there is no ONE AND ONLY straight and narrow way. I think it’s a personal journey for each of us based on our abilities and spiritual gifts and just exactly what we’re being prepared for. Christ with all his tender mercies and his Atonement is there for us unconditionally.

So, anyway, Nathan isn’t going to be left behind and let his old decrepit mother beat him up the mountain. He starts his ascent. He stumbles a bit. He drops to the ground, losing his grip on his walking stick – and on the ground in general. Then he started to roll down a little. My breath stopped. I had a vision of broken artificial limb parts and bloody real body parts. But he stopped himself and started over. On another area of the mountain.

He zigzagged up the mountain. It was a longer ascent but he was more sure of himself and he was in control of his movements. He made it to the cave with the rest of us.

So those of us who chose to make the hike, made it to our destination – the cave. Multiple roads and trails were taken to get there – each choosing the road that suited them best. I’m not saying that we don’t have to conform at times and make ourselves take a road the Lord has laid out for us; letting go of the path that is comfortable for us. My body kind of twitches just a tad when someone says, “We’re all on the road together, helping each other get home.” I see it differently.

In my head, we’re all on the mountain together. Each getting to the cave on a path laid out for us.

And, yes, still helping each other. Our chosen paths crossing another’s at an opportune time. Reaching out for the steady arm or listening for the words of encouragement or direction. Sharing an extra walking stick. Joining in a needed rest.

Watching as I possibly make a sixth U-turn or perhaps taking me gently by the shoulders; facing me in the direction I need to go in a life’s moment when I’ve lost my way.

One of the map apps I use fairly regularly has a little trapped voice in phone that will say, “In 50 feet your destination will be on the right {or left or wherever it actually will be}” followed soon after by “You have arrived at your destination”, I throw gratitude out to the universe and pat myself heavily on the back when I hear that. I can’t help but wonder, though, with all the red lines mapping out every footstep what my life journey will end up looking like? Most of my side roads haven’t been that bad. Certainly could have been worse. My intentions have always been to go the right way – distractions just come too easily. Is it possible to have spiritual ADD? My tangled mass of red lines. {Especially when compared to LOML’s road map which will probably be a single straight line. How did he ever end up with me? Poor guy!} Will anyone even be able to find me with all my random choices and forks in the road and my fascination with untraveled paths?

And at this point, I’ll probably never change. I’ll never be a straight shot kind of gal.

Hopefully, through all my rights and lefts and U-turns and re-dos I still end up where I’m supposed to be and meet you all at the cave.

“You have arrived at your destination”.

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