I’ve always enjoyed the messages that life gives us in response to our thoughts, intentions and actions on the path. The way a question in our mind can be answered by the passing conversation of total strangers or a bumper sticker on the car in front of us. The way an impulse or new idea may be confirmed by a subtle shift in light or wind direction or the call of a gecko or bird. Our indigenous elders and ancestors seemed to live in constant connection with this subtle symphony of life. In modern days, with information coming at us from all directions, it can be easy to miss the Divine message in the breeze; the message that’s pointing us toward a new life path, as we respond to the buzz of our mobile.
Recently, the worlds of modern technology and natural wisdom have converged for me, revealing some unexpected parallels between the way that my iPhone’s GPS (Global Positioning System) guides my driving and how our own higher wisdom helps us navigate life.
As most are familiar, the basic function of a GPS is that you type or speak the address of where you want to go, the phone/device links to a network of satellites, determining where you are in relation to your destination, then it promptly begins instructing you on (usually) the most direct route to get there. One could argue that this technology itself detracts from our own ability to tune in and find our way… but as I’ve been using my GPS quite frequently to navigate unfamiliar streets, I’ve realized it also comes with a few gifts and lessons about how our own inner GPS. Here’s what I’ve discovered…
Giving us directions just one clear step at a time
One Step at a Time
One of the first things I noticed about my GPS program is that once it calibrates the overall journey, it gives its directions just one clear step at a time. While my mind often wants to jump ahead and know the whole path, the GPS doesn’t work that way. It doesn’t say, “In 800 meters, turn right at Ocean Ave, then left at Wooloomooloo and drive for a 5 kilometers until you hit the highway…”. It simply says, “In 800 meters, turn right at Ocean Ave.” And then once we’ve done that successfully, it moves on to the next step. With its global view it clearly sees the bigger picture, but it only gives us what we need to know right now. Whether we’re driving to the grocery store or across the country, the guidance approach is the same. “First do this, and once you’ve done this, then I will tell you what to do next.”
Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
Often times in life, when we are taking on a new direction or path, there is a tendency to want to see what’s further down the track. To know how to get there or what’s going to happen. And while we may stop along the way at times to consider the overall vision of where we are going, the path itself will only open in direct response to how each step is taken. As much as we may crave to reach the goal (that new job, new home, completed project, etc.) in most cases the most direct route is only accessed by bringing our full presence and attention to this moment right here and now.
No Limits, No Judgments, No Regrets
The next thing I noticed when we began using our GPS, is that (at least within this continent) it doesn’t put any limits on where I want to go. Sitting in our driveway on the east coast of Australia we can plug in a destination that’s five days away and it doesn’t question, doubt or scoff. It just meets us where we are and begins to guide the path.
And if we happen to make a wrong turn or miss a right one, the GPS doesn’t judge or abuse us based on what we “should have” done. It simply takes a quiet moment to recalibrate based on where we are now, and with the same end goal in mind, it offers the next clearest direction on how to get there now. Not a lesser way, just a different way. While we may be beating ourselves up for the time we have wasted or the road we have missed, the GPS’s only focus is, “what is the very best path from right here, to where we want to go?”
Often times in life, when we make what we perceive to be a wrong turn, we can spend an awful lot of time (even lifetimes!) judging ourselves, regretting and wishing we could go back to the “highlighted route”. It’s interesting to consider that in most cases the only one judging our turn as “wrong” is us. It may take a moment to re-calibrate, but like our GPS, life will always be ready to meet us where we are and continue a different way along the path. Between the age of 10 and 20, my entire path was focused on making the Olympics as a skier. One “wrong turn” ended my career as an athlete with an injury, but when life recalibrated it opened my path as a coach, ultimately delivering me to the Olympics with an entire team of athletes. So sometimes there’s a good reason why we turned left when the “logical” path was pointing right. Maybe we will bump into an old friend we didn’t know how to reach or discover something special on a side street that we didn’t even realize we were looking for. Maybe this slight shift in navigation will shift our whole schedule by 7 seconds, causing us to avoid some future obstacle, or open up an opportunity that otherwise wouldn’t have been there. Our GPS is not there to judge our movements, only to respond to our deep intention by offering guidance from where we are right now.
You are not lost, you are here!
Power of Intention
So these first two GPS gifts have had quite a powerful impact on my driving (and my life), but the third one is perhaps the most potent of all. And that is, in order for the GPS to offer any help whatsoever, we must first tell it where we want to go. We can type this destination in or we can speak it into the phone, but one way or another we must express our ultimate destination. Without this, the GPS has no way of knowing how to apply its seemingly limitless capacity to see and guide our steps. From this moment right here it is capable of guiding us to the corner store or the Grand Canyon with equal clarity. But we must first decide where we wish to go.
In life, amidst our daily efforts to keep up with everything that needs to get done, it seems there is little time to pause and cultivate a clear vision for where we truly want to go. What we truly feel called to do. Who we truly came here to be.
When you want something, all the Universe conspires in helping you achieve it.
– Paulo Coelho
Many of us have spent so long moving through life, driving defensively in reaction to what the world expects of us that we have lost touch with what our deep inner calling looks or feels like. And often we don’t even let ourselves speak or even think about our ultimate destination for fear of failure, rejection or not having what it takes to get there. But in my experience, our greatest limiting factor is almost never that “we don’t have what it takes” to get there, but rather that we don’t take what we have already deep within us and give ourselves permission to begin.
And the amazing thing is, unlike the GPS on our phone, we don’t need to know the exactly what it is or where we want to go in order for our own inner guidance system to kick in (in fact sometimes if we are too locked into a specific plan we can miss the higher path trying to reveal itself). We can start by simply connecting with how we want to FEEL. By taking just a few moments to genuinely imagine and feel in our body, the feeling of our imagined outcome, this alone begins to set an inner compass and conversation that will awaken our partnership with life.
While the journey (and even the destination) is likely to unfold in different ways than we could ever imagine, if we are willing to stay present, take one step at a time, there are no limits to where the path will lead. Life does not judge what’s possible or what could or should have been. It simply meets us right where we are, with an ever-present willingness to guide the next step toward who and where we truly want to be.