I can see you. You’ve woken up. I probably can’t imagine too much beyond that point because we all awake a bit differently, don’t we? Some of us are morning people (yay!) and some of us tango with the dark of night, making morning an unwelcome visitor to our day. The thing about this morning visitor, he shows up each day ready to pounce on your tired limbs and dance shades of bright light across your eyelids. “Wake up!”, he screams. I don’t mind this. Most mornings, I feel ready for this reliable visitor, but on the days that I don’t – I completely relate and feel deep empathy for those non-morning humans. I am typically the one nodding off by 9:00 pm. Put me in front of anything passive and I won’t last long. If I’m working on something active in the evening, I likely feel a great deal of angst. My brain has become foggy and I lack problem solving or thoughtful remarks. So, I won’t have coherent answers to my kids’ questions or witty things to discuss. Hence, I write in the mornings. Here I am. It is 10:30 in the morning and I have started and stopped this several times to address countless questions or arguments from my children. Yet, I feel more in my element now than I will later. We all have a bucket of energy that is finite. Once you’ve tapped into that and put it to use, there will be a point where it’s all used up. Nothing left.
Yay! You’re up! About to begin!
Once you’re up and in charge or your day (let’s hope you feel at least some ownership over your day), do you check a map? Is it the same map that you review every day? If so, perhaps you aren’t really seeing the map anymore, but briefly glimpse at the topography and move forward on the path without mindful attention. I’ve been thinking about this lately as the summer comes to a close for us this month and another school year will begin. The map of summer has become well worn at this point. The key has been smudged and the sun has bleached the color. At this point I feel like we are all a bit disoriented, wondering what is next. Do we continue to seek guidance on this sun worn picture, create a new map, or dust off another that has been rolled up and stored in the closet? How often do you find yourself creating a new map or searching for others that have provided you direction in the past?
A fresh start and a new map
I am envisioning my children ready for their first day of school, crisp, clean clothes – no holes or stains yet. A backpack on their back, fresh shoes to make prints through their day, and a mind whirling for direction. There is a lot of unknowns that first day or even the first week as they work through their new schedules, learn about new teachers, expectations, rules, and routines. It’s a lot to take in and often leaves them exhausted. They’ve opened up the new map, held its large picture before them, tried as much as possible to hold it all in their brains to ensure they know the next turn. They will try to avoid any uncomfortable territory that may lurk in those unknown, less traversed areas of the map. Head up, walk forward.
We all do this, children and adults alike. There are certainly times in our life when it seems we are opening up new maps every year. As adults we do this when we take new jobs, start a new hobby, begin a relationship, become a parent, purchase a home, buy life insurance, etc. So many maps! We are all frontiers taking on adventure because our life depends on it. Our livelihood, our purpose of existence, requires maps – some sort of orientation to lead us into uncharted territories as well as newly formed lands of our own creation. Truth be told we are often writing the map one step ahead of our current spot since nobody has been led down our unique place in this world. Yet, we have each other to consult and guide us through the unknowing and sometimes scary territories. Let’s not forget that we are social beings and our early ancestors formed tribes and communities for a reason. Survival.
When you open your map today or look down, appreciate where you are, and look forward with optimism in the journey that lies ahead. It may be well known since you traveled the same path yesterday, but it may not. Maybe today you are starting something new, meeting new people, or trying out a new hobby. Whatever it may be – appreciate that it is normal to feel trepidation at the road ahead as well as comfort or agitation at the path well-traveled. We have all been on those maps that led to a pit of despair or heartache, and we’ve all crumpled those up and threw them in a wastebasket or burned them telling ourselves “never again”. Yet, that experience on that map left us with something. Something that we will use as we set out on a new journey, maybe with a bit of hesitation, but moving forward all the same. Keep your eyes open for the rest areas along the way and take advantage of them. You need to rest. Look up at the scenery that isn’t always obvious on the map and take notes. What went well? What did you enjoy? What did you learn? Taking some time to reflect will provide you a deposit to your future self. This deposit will motivate your bravery and provide you with a boost of confidence to put into the next day whether you are building a new map or seeing an old map with new eyes.
Onward and upward my friends!