Asking for Directions

Everyone knows the joke about men never asking for directions. It seems to be a universal problem regardless of any particular part of the world or the culture involved. Men are supposed to know where they are going. It is not difficult to imagine a nomadic tribe wandering around lost with a single male signing that he remembers a tree or a interesting bush. And for such a long time, women have just shrugged their shoulders and found the first person that they could ask for themselves. Women have never seemed to be afraid to admit that they are lost. In a way, it is good that men and women spend time together. Otherwise the men might never find anything.

This is largely a stereotype but surprisingly it does seem to be the standard mode of operation for most men. I’ve done it myself lots of times and my wife will either insist that I ask or she will ask someone out the window when we are stopped at a light. It doesn’t happen very often but it can happen we we go on trips.

Why is it such a big deal? I’ve never heard a really good reason for it. I think it might have something to do with not admitting error. Perhaps making a mistake is just not supposed to be an option. How can you ask directions when the very act of asking shows that you have made a very big error of judgment? If not that, maybe it is just that men are supposed to instinctively know which direction to go and in that leadership it guarantees that we would want to keep our leadership role. We, as a group, do not like to let go of control. We typically view leadership with lack of error which in theory also leads to better respect.

The truth is that this kind of leadership is destined to failure. No one will talk about it perhaps (fearing punishment) but it will still be a mistake. Leadership that fears and avoids failure is destined to fail. Quite bizarre concept really.

The point this apparently is leading to is that leaders must acknowledge that having only one leader is bound to fail in the short and long term. By this I mean that if the leader relies solely on his or her own brain, and does not ask for opinions (or directions) the chance of successfully reaching the goal are greatly diminished. I’m not saying that there should be hundreds of leaders. That is more a problem of too many heads (hydra) that really will be the expression of individual minds with most likely conflicting ideas of where to go. This would pretty much put the group in stagnation with lots of churn in one spot. A leader which is willing to share the power is more likely to ask for directions. A leader with thought originating outside his or her brain is more likely a leader that is uncaring as to where the ownership of the ideas lay.

It is a great secret in spirituality that there are no secrets. It takes awhile to realize that most everything is already available to you. The best bits of life come from the usually unobserved miracles of everyday life.

I say this because I’ve come to a point in my life where I need to make a decision. I’m in the process of deciding whether or not to travel to my grandparent’s home in Minnesota. My Grandmother is very ill and it is unclear how much time is left. It could be anything from a few days to a few months. Anyway, it is hard to deal with since I’ve never been this close to the possibility of death with someone that has been so close.

I already know what I should do which is to go to America. As selfish as it sounds, I just don’t know if I am ready. I know I could do it, really.

Anyways, I’m going to decide in the next day or two what to do and this is where the “asking for directions” comes from. Obviously I’m not asking for directions to Humboldt. This is a case where I admit that my first reaction is to shield my emotions. The directions I would seek is how to open up. I need to let all this stuff out.

It is not aimed at any one person to ask this and really this is more like therapy for me to write about this that me actually expecting someone to respond.

I figure that the universe has its own way of answer questions and providing help when asked.

So, I ask this:

How can I find the courage to face this and not shield my heart? How can I let the pain come to the surface without losing my way?

Frankly I’m afraid of letting this kind of stuff out. It is kind of like having a cupboard full of china that has been displaced by an earthquake. At what point to you try to open the door?

The answer, metaphysically, is that the door is already open. You cannot hold back that which has already happened.

Illusions surround us everyday and the most revealing thing about them is that they are formed by our own perceptions. A magician never reveals his secrets and likewise our minds do the same. The trapdoor in the stage is set for us to fall into to save us from the boiling knives. The fierce heat does not reach us and we are safe, as always, deep inside.

That which is sought is always granted but perhaps not in the form sought. Peace and harmony are solely a process of the mind inspired by the events seen on the outside. What if your whole life was nothing but a performance that you alone wrote. Why would you write it that way? What is the ending? Will anyone appreciate your script?

Clearly it is not that simple.

I just am having trouble accepting what I know is what I am meant to do. The only way to face your phantoms is to stop running and to turn on the lights. Once done, you realize that the phantoms disappear and that it was your own thoughts that brought them to bear.

When my great-grandmother died in 1975 I was only ten years old. Since I was the first of her son’s Harvey’s grandchild, we somehow formed a special bond. I have several memories of her and I’m so glad that I was able to be a part of her life. When she died, I didn’t know what to do. I remember this well. I didn’t want to admit that she had died to that part of me that still wanted to be with her. It’s like I never let go.

I didn’t go to the funeral as part of this view of hiding the truth. I was pretty young at the time but this way of handling such close loss has survived largely intact today. I have recently discovered that my Dad has done the same thing with his family.

It is time for that kind of reaction to end. I have to accept that these things happen all the time and will eventually affect me as well.

In that light, I have convinced myself to go. She certainly has not died yet but that is no excuse for avoiding what will most likely be nothing like I have imaged. I have the ability to take the time to do this and there really are no excuses for being in remiss.

It certainly is not going to be easy but at least change is taking place and I’m sure the answers and directions will come soon.

I spoke with Grandma a couple of weeks ago and she seemed in good spirits. I asked her what I could do. She replied that she would like for me to pray for her.

Grandma, you have given so much in your life. I pray that you know how much of a difference you have made in everybody’s life and that you can see how much everyone loves you. And, even though you are suffering with a fatal illness, you are still a bright light in the family. I pray that you will know how much we love you. I pray that you will see that your family understands the path that you are on and that everyone will show you that they can let go.

The battle is largely over and I know that there is not much time or energy left. I know how hard it can be to stand alone on a field of strange places. You do not stand alone. It just seems that way. We all love you so much and we will rally around you once again. We are not here to fight but rather spend what time we have together on that field.

I’m sorry that it all worked out this way. I wish things had gone differently. This is not where any of us wanted things to be. We are not captains of our own lives this way.

However, we do have the power to accept. We do have the power to bring light and love to such a lovely person as yourself. It is clear that the path has already been chosen and that the challenges presented. It is just a matter of bringing all this together in a way that shows you that everything is already okay.

Mom, I know you are reading this. Can you please print this out and give this to Grandma when you go to see her next week.

It appears to be such a public way of doing this but really very few people read this blog. In this case it is probably a blessing. It is quickly turning into a blog just for our family.

With that, I must stop for now. It has been a very draining day to think about what is coming.

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2 thoughts on “Asking for Directions

  1. What a beautiful thing you have written about Grandma. I have printed it and will take it with me to read to her. For all of us it is a time to”ask for direction” and then follow our heart.

    Love,
    Mom

  2. So much of what you wrote in your prayer for Mom has been going through my mind as well. We have been so blessed that death has not touched our immediate family. Many can’t say that. I think it makes this reality doubly hard at times. George faced mortality and says there is no feeling of fear, but a feeling of calm and peace. I hold that in my prayers for Mom that she is held in the comfort and peace of God’s loving hands. Your prayer will give Mom comfort and may it also comfort you.

    Love,
    Delores

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