At some point in an adult life, a sense of mission drift can take root. Somewhere the life and the work we love takes a wrong turn, and we end up in a bad neighborhood. This sense of feeling lost can present itself as a frenzied desire to escape, or a sense of dread in going to work or home. When elder Native Americans give advice to youth on being lost in the forest, they tell them to “stand still”:
When you are in doubt, be still, and wait; when doubt no longer exists for you, then go forward with courage. So long as mists envelop you, be still.Ponca Chief White Eagle (1800's to 1914)
Surely, this wilderness survival wisdom applies to life. The very first thing we do when lost while driving is turn off the radio, pay attention, slow down. Search and rescue crews tell us that when lost, fight the impulse to do more and more activity. They report that most people lost in the wilderness ignore the advice to stay stationary so they can be found. Reorienting and finding a different way forward requires this necessary first step of “standing still” to design a new horizon. Creating a great life, one that doesn’t need escaping from, requires skill, adaptability, resilience and resisting the urge to get too busy or mired in details. And if it feels too hard, remember Nietzsche’s wisdom, “He who has a great WHY to live can bear almost any HOW.
The forest knows where you are. You must let it find you.David Wagoner, American poet, b. 1926