I was listening this morning to one of my favorite podcasts: The Good Life Project with Jonathan Fields. In the episode, Jonathan talks with Dave Evans, author of Designing Your Life, about helping people answer the question of “What should I do with my life?” As always with the Good Life Project podcasts, there is so much beauty, so much inspiration, so much goodness packed into an hour-long conversation. But what really gave me pause today was Dave’s comment that discovering our path “is a way finding versus navigation.” It requires “tacking back and forth through the wind… there is no linear line,” he says.
Not only is way finding relevant to finding our calling in life, but sometimes it’s a daily practice. I think it’s especially relevant right now, as we figure out how to walk in this world that feels more unstable, more uncertain, more scary every day.
As I shared with my husband the other night, I just want someone to tell me what to do. (OK, I’ll be honest, the exact comment was: “I want Obama to tell us it’s going to be OK and tell us what to do.”) When I’m sick, I still want my mommy. When the country is sick, apparently I am still reaching for the calming, nurturing tone, the integrity and the grace that President Obama offers.
But that’s not going to happen. One single person doesn’t have the answer. Nor is the answer the same for all of us. We’re in uncharted territory. There is no map, no GPS to set a perfect course.
Sound familiar? For anyone with young kids who has seen Moana, and listened to the soundtrack, you may be humming “How Far I’ll Go” to yourself right now. (I am…) When Moana learns that her ancestors were wayfarers, she too chooses the unknown path of exploration. She sings:
“See the light as it shines on the sea
But no one knows how deep it goes
And it seems like it’s calling out to me
So come find me
And let me know
What’s beyond that line
Will I cross that line
See the light where the sky meets the sea
It calls me
And no one knows how far it goes
If the wind in my sail on the sea stays behind me
One day I’ll know
How far I’ll go”
I hesitate referring to Moana, because there are certainly issues with the movie. Doesn’t wayfaring refer to exploring on foot, not at sea? Not to mention how the movie misrepresents Pacific Islander cultures (“Why Moana Isn’t My Pacific Islander Feminist Hero” is a good read on this). But with my daughter playing the soundtrack nonstop around the house (I do love the music), wayfaring speaks to me right now.
I know I want to be part of the change, but I’m not always sure how. Some days I feel empowered and like my voice can make a difference; some days I feel so defeated and overwhelmed. I’m struggling with how to keep my footing and stay in balance: how to live, nurture my daughter and my family, be present, take care of myself… while also being an activist who creates change. I’m angry, but under that anger is fear and hurt. I’m scared, I’m worried, I’m sad, I’m hurting… and it takes real focus not to let those feelings define who I am, suffocate my days.
By accepting the fact that there’s no exact route when wayfaring, I find solace. I need to accept the unknown and plow forward anyway. Pema Chodron says it best: “Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all.”
Explorers need to be curious and open. They need to be brave. They also need to protect themselves. I’m committed to being an explorer, a wayfarer right now. And to do that…
I will stay curious, ready to listen and hear all perspectives.
I will keep my heart open, continuing to choose love over fear.
I will be brave, even in the face of chaos.
I will set and keep my boundaries.
Wayfaring isn’t linear and there’s no fixed destination. So my makeshift map will have to be my heart. I’m following my heart.