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Finding my way


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“I seem to get lost everywhere, even when I know where I’m going.” I said to my friend yesterday while hopelessly searching for 3rd avenue and Alamedia in downtown Phoenix. As the words spilled out of my mouth, I realized the depth and significance of that statement. I’m not necessarily one of those people who find meaning in every traffic light, rainstorm and fender bender. I used to be. I used to believe that the “universe” stopped me at a red light to make me 5 minutes late for an important appointment in order to protect me from some impending car crash that awaited me just a few feet beyond the intersection. I never balked at flight cancellations. Surely it was the “supreme being’s” way of saving me and a host of other passengers from an in-flight disaster. When I did back up into a parking lot pole, the message was clear; I needed to move forward in my life while always keeping my eye on the past so as not to encounter some unseen impediment from bygone years.

This philosophy managed to keep me from lamenting my tardiness. It bolstered me when disaster struck. It even made me almost laid back, which I assure you is no easy task. Believing that everything happens for a reason creates an inner, contemplative life in which self-reflection rules above all else. When one can find meaning in every popped button and split seam, no event, no matter how outwardly insignificant, occurs without at least a limited amount of thoughtfulness and attention.

But we mature. We “grow up.” We have children. And we run out of time; time for inner contemplation, time for “what ifs,” time for attention to the little things in life. We deem introspection to be self indulgent. We run through the weeks not knowing how Monday morning morphed into Friday afternoon in what seemed like a nano-second. We stop wasting time looking for life’s deeper meanings and neglect to excavate the profound beneath the trivial that inhabits our lives. And that’s a shame.

I do get lost a lot. As my son likes to say, “I couldn’t navigate myself out of a paper bag.” And I think that’s significant. My lack of directional sense frustrates me. But perhaps it’s there for a reason, and until I acknowledge and pay attention to it, I am destined to continue my cycle of navigational chaos.

A lot of times I get lost because I don’t trust myself. I question my ability to find my way when, in reality, I know where I’m headed. Back in January, my son was in a play out in Chandler and I had to drive him to rehearsals several times a week. I mindlessly followed my GPS time and time again. There was no mindfulness in my driving. I was too busy multi-tasking to pay attention to where we were going. One night, my son, who was tired of listening to the same robotic voice commands over and over, challenged me to turn off the GPS and try to get to rehearsal myself. “I bet you can’t do it,” he snipped. I was irritated by his tone and blatant disdain. “Oh yeah?” I said. “Well, here goes.” We got there without incident. There were several occasions when I scanned the horizon and recognized nothing. But I kept my doubts to myself and continued driving.

I think it all boils down to what you believe. Like they teach in my youngest’s Karate class; “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.” So maybe I get lost because I stop believing I know where I am. Hmmm…now there’s something to ponder.

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About gettrich

Debra Rich Gettleman is a professional actor, playwright and journalist living in Seattle, WA with her husband Mark and two amazing boys, Levi and Eli.

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