You have reached your destination

I have nothing against Google Maps, but this week it told me to sleep in the middle of a five-lane city street packed with bumper-to-bumper traffic.

We were driving to see the redwood forests of northern California. We overnighted in San Jose, where we’d booked a charming little Spanish-colonial hotel, set among lush trees. I put the address into Google Maps, which confidently led us into the heart of a major metropolis jammed with vehicles, pedestrians, and huge, flashing Christmas light displays. “You have arrived at your destination,” said the soothing voice from my phone.

So I called the hotel, which turned out to be awaiting my arrival in the heart of San Jose…Costa Rica. This is a true story.

As I booked an outrageously expensive room on very short notice, I reminded myself that living as a Wayfinder isn’t about always getting where you want to go, when you expect to arrive. It’s about venturing into the unknown, making mistakes, and ending up in the wrong place, repeatedly. A good Wayfinder is someone who’s comfortable losing the way.

We eventually got back on track—like you do—and today I stood among trees that were already tall when Jesus and Buddha walked the earth. They grew taller as the Vikings sailed, were already huge before the Aztecs ever met a Spaniard. Wandering through them, I felt acutely that they were not only alive all that time, but aware. They’re like space creatures: immensely still, benevolently alien beings.

I got lost again among these giants—this time not geographically but psychologically. Spiritually. My small body, my brief life, my human identity all felt inconsequential next to the redwoods, and I loved it. Being lost in a blaring city had been jarring. It took some serious positive thinking to cope with it. By contrast, losing myself in an ancient forest was a kind of ecstasy. At some point in the hours I spent there, I forgot that I was separate from the trees, from the soil. I forgot to be a self, divided from the rest of the universe.

This kind of “lostness” is what lets us know that our Wayfinding compasses, our inborn Google maps, are working perfectly. When our minds quiet and our hearts open, we find ourselves in a map of the universe drawn like a Chinese painting, tiny human travelers barely visible in the vast beauty of nature. We don’t need to feel huge or central, the focus of attention. We don’t need to feel anything but present.


The mindset of Wayfinding can help us on a literal journey, or in every ordinary day.
 For you, today, that might mean navigating a relationship problem or a career disappointment. Stop, acknowledge that you’re lost, feel for the step forward that brings peace and lets you loosen your hold on what you thought you wanted. Take that step. Then do it all again. Move always toward inner stillness and loving communion.This mode of Wayfinding can become a constant state. It doesn’t mean life will be perfect. It means getting lost, but without anxiety: blundering into places we never anticipated and don’t understand, and rejoicing in it all. Once we’ve set our internal navigation to track our true purpose, we’ll get lost a thousand times: that’s how the way is found. At any given moment, it’s okay to be someplace unfamiliar without a clue where we’re going next. Whatever is happening, whatever’s around us, we always ultimately know where we are. We’re home.
7 replies
  1. Nancy Binks-Lyman
    Nancy Binks-Lyman says:

    So perfect for where I am right now…what a gift. Ironically, I ran into (2) turtles yesterday on completely different walks. Hmmmmm……I am quite sure the universe was encouraging me to "observe" what a turtle step really is and just sit with it. The turtles I watched were certainly comfortable with the slow, steady steps they were taking and also pulling their heads back in and stopping when they needed a break. And the bizarre thing? I live in Colorado close to the mountains….seeing these turtles in December was amazing and deliberate…for sure.

    Reply
  2. Susan S
    Susan S says:

    I LOVE trees! I feel they are the sentinels of Earth. So majestic and giving, giving, giving! I only read "The Giving Tree" by Shel Silverstein once and I can't get through it again. And Joyce Kilmer's tree poem? I can't say anything lovelier.

    Reply
  3. Sharon M Riley
    Sharon M Riley says:

    "Not all those who wander are lost." JRR Tolkein

    Oh I so love this: "This kind of “lostness” is what lets us know that our Wayfinding compasses, our inborn Google maps, are working perfectly. When our minds quiet and our hearts open, we find ourselves in a map of the universe drawn like a Chinese painting, tiny human travelers barely visible in the vast beauty of nature. We don’t need to feel huge or central, the focus of attention. We don’t need to feel anything but present."

    So true! I just finished your book "Steering by Starlight" and I cannot begin to express how deeply it resonated and spoke to me. Wow. Thanks for these reminders. 🙂

    Reply
  4. Ona Mosier
    Ona Mosier says:

    The quiet, majestic wonder and beauty of the redwoods fills my heart with peace and gratitude. My precious husband passed away at the end of July. His spirit was with me again when I hiked in November on one of our favorite trails and quietly, lovingly spread his ashes. The previous days had been wet and rainy
    but on that afternoon the sun shone radiantly! It was his perfect resting place!

    Reply
  5. Ann
    Ann says:

    Hi Martha!
    I liked your article.
    Have some questions… some related to the article and some not… please do not feel obliged to answer! (But if you would, that'd be awesome, haha. No worries if you don't, though!)
    ~ In addition to following our inner compass, do you believe life gives us guidance from outside? Like, does it gives us signs to let us know where it wants us to go, such as certain things happen or the same things keep being said to us…?
    ~ Do you believe in karma? Does life "punish" people who are or do wrong? Does it want certain people to suffer?
    ~ Do you believe in the phrase "for the highest good of all concerned"? How can we know what is of the highest good? Or how do we know what life wants?
    ~ Do you believe life "knows" our destiny? Or can this be created by us? For example, I want certain things and envision certain social relationships but I'm feeling powerless because I'm in the mindset of, "well life probably doesn't want that for me, because it's what I want rather than life wants"..
    Have an awesome day!
    Kind regards,
    Ann

    Reply
  6. Cassandra Rose
    Cassandra Rose says:

    Perfect Way for you to find your source is inside
    We have been indoctrinated with the cart before the horse
    Patriarchal mind set that the wheel moves
    via the pushing the rim of wheel..

    If wheel is sluggish then change the spokes
    It is all mechanical with us forcing the wheel.
    Reality is life works from inside >> out
    Not the engineers of 20th century mind set
    of outside <<< to inside

    Your wayfarer approach is allowing people to
    Know it is the empty Hole in the middle of Wheel
    Where the greatest power is to make the Wheel
    have life of it's own to Flourish Thrive Naturally.

    By taping into what we are inside.. The truth of
    our soul source is to tap into the empty hole
    of our amazing human energy…
    It is this power of our human energy
    that engages the spokes to have life
    that move the rim of wheel.

    When all systems parts of the wheel
    engaged in synergy from the source
    then this rim takes on life of it's own
    Moving the wheel on it's own where the Wheel is
    being driven by the Source of Us Human inside of us..

    Reply

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