Friday, September 2, 2011

Trusting the Unknown

As I headed out of my driveway on my morning run this week, I suddenly had the impulse to turn left where I would usually turn right. As I began to ascend a familiar hill up towards Montecito, I was rerouting my course in my head. I had been on this road before, so I knew the road forked up ahead and a right hand turn would dump me right at my former college campus, and I could find my way home from there. But, as the fork came into sight, I was hit with yet another impulse to turn left.

At this moment I was on completely unchartered territory. Still, in my head, I had expectations about where I was headed. There will be a right hand turn at some point, I thought, and I can reconnect with the campus there. But before long I realized this road was climbing an entirely different hill, separated more and more from that familiar place by a ravine to my right, growing deeper with every stride. As my expectations were challenged, I was acutely aware of the recalculation taking place in my head with each change. For a moment I felt my brain completely separated from my physical and emotional body, as though it were an on-board GPS system that could only compute "when possible, make a u-turn."

But, though unfamiliar with this particular road, I am intimately familiar with getting lost on the unmeasurable network of roads that wind through Montecito. Many times, I have had the experience of missing a turn only to think I'll get another opportunity to make up the route, only to end up miles from my intended exit - but exited nonetheless. My understanding of this experience, and the mystery of these roads, left me in complete, 100% confidence that I would get "there". So much that, by the point every one of my assumptions had been proven incorrect, I didn't know where "there" was, and was totally and completely at peace with that.

My route continued for a full 5.5 mile loop, passing by familiar places without any idea how I had gotten there previously. At every turn I had a strong pull in one direction and I'd take it. There was something exciting in the adventure of not having a clue where I was. And, when my route finally landed me on that road right near my old college campus I smiled graciously. I knew I'd get "there", and what a pleasant surprise that "there" was "here" all along. I don't really expect it to make perfect sense, but there was something strangely comforting and insanely satisfying in the end result. I got home, climbed my driveway, and with that smile still on my face I looked back and spoke aloud "awesome."

Ready for the metaphor? Here goes...

Two years ago I chose to leave a comfortable place in search of one more fulfilling. I took an unfamiliar turn, but the journey I was embarking on was clear to me. The path to take and the resulting outcome was certain. Those were high expectations that, along the way, have been relentlessly worn thin. Worn into nothing, I would say - to the point where I can't claim to know or understand or predict any outcome. It's nothing like I thought it would be. I stand now on an entirely different hill, a vast and deep ravine where I thought all along my turn would be. I just keep pushing forward, winding along, and the ravine gets wider and wider and that hill farther and farther away.

Why is it that I had 100% confidence in the roads of Montecito, but every day I am fighting the fear that the direction of my life isn't where it is supposed to be? What purpose does that doubt and fear serve...other than cloud my experience with, well, doubt and fear?

But this is the essence of faith. To know these windy roads that network through life may get me lost, but they will always get me "there". And just because I have no idea where "there" is doesn't make it an inherently bad thing. In all times of trials and grief, though difficult in their uncertainty, life has actually never let me down. I always end up at home. And, in every case I've looked back on that uncertainty and the adventure out of it and thought to myself...


Even though I question it at times, I'm sure glad I didn't take that u-turn when I was tempted to.

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