The other day I was listening to a radio show on travel. The guest was talking about his career as a travel journalist and the pros and cons of travelling alone. When it came time for listener comments, a man called in and said, “My motto is, ‘I’m never lost, I just don’t know where I am.’”
I turned this over in my mind a few times. I started wishing I had known about that motto when I was grieving and felt utterly lost in a world I no longer recognized. Or when the opposing forces of coming out as a lesbian and my conservative Christian beliefs collided and tossed my self-confidence about like a lawn chair in a hurricane. Or when I was laid off from my job and panicky about how I was going to pay the rent.
If only I’d known that I wasn’t really lost, I just didn’t know where I was. That the experience of not knowing where I was would make me stronger, and that it would open new doors for me as I explored areas I wouldn’t have explored if I hadn’t been unwillingly thrust into them.
Because I didn’t know where I was, I learned that grief doesn’t end, but it does get better. This lesson propelled me to help others who need an anchor when they, too, are feeling lost in their sea of grief. I can help them to eventually see that they aren’t lost, they just don’t know where they are right now.
Because I didn’t know where I was, I learned that there are many different ways to think about life rather than being locked into one narrow belief system. I was able to grow a healthy respect for different faiths, different viewpoints, and different lifestyles. And I learned that I was more okay than I ever thought I would be when my vision was so constricted.
Because I didn’t know where I was, I took the first job that came along after I was laid off, something outside of my skill set and training. My wild attempt to latch onto stability launched me on a wonderful fifteen-year experience that was rife with discovery: I had leadership skills I never knew about; I was more creative than I had given myself credit for; I found a passion for advocating for the underdog on the margins of society – people who need and want skills to bounce back from adversity.
Not knowing where I am brings color and vitality to my life. The difference between now and those past experiences is that now I can celebrate and anticipate not knowing where I am. Even if it’s uncomfortable, I still know that I’m in a space where I might discover something new about myself right around the next corner.
How has not knowing where you were influenced your life?