This quote was presented at the beginning with the follow-up idea of: a map is good, but a guide is better.
Why is a guide better than a map? Well, when I first began formulating an answer, I didn't like it. I don't know if a guide is better than a map. A map is black and white, concrete; all its answers lie before you. A guide is a person you have to talk to and trust. Sometimes talking and trusting aren't so easy.
I've always been a do-it-yourself-er. My parents have unending stories of my independence from the time I was two years old. Here's my latest story:
I'm training for a hike through the Grand Canyon mid-November. Last weekend I decided to go for a hike. I downloaded a Trails app for my iPhone and had no idea where I was going. Outfitted in my trail running shoes, tshirt, and my iPhone I set out on an hour drive and ended up at a state park on a 95 degree day. The hike was supposed to be six miles. When I arrived at the trail head it was a small parking lot off a gravel road with minimal signs or directions for my hike. I started off going left. A couple steps into the path, I didn't feel right. I turned around. I went back to the trail head and stared, bewilderdly confused, at the signs. Looked at my app. I set off on the right trail this time, starting my GPS tracking with the MapMyWalk app.
Sometime through, I got a text. I looked down - didn't realize it at the time, but at the moment when I was checking my phone I had passed a trail marker and a fork in the path. I should have gone left, but I kept going straight. Well, I got lost and took a 20 minute detour. Found my way back on the path and continued where I should have gone when that text came through. The paths were overgrown. There were bugs buzzing in my ears.
The trail markers were not so easy to follow. I didn't see a single soul on the paths while I was there.
The last trail marker I remember noticing was on a tree that had fallen onto the ground. It was by my foot. "What kind of a path is this??" I didn't know how to read the signs. And there weren't that many signs to begin with.
I got hot, lost, frustrated, felt alone and hopeless on this hot summer day as the sun light was dwindling.
Looking at my GPS, I did the only thing that seemed logical at the time — bushwack a straight line back to my car. For two miles. In shorts and tennis shoes. I was not prepared for this.
It was probably the most miserable hike of my life, and all I could think was, I wish Andrew was here.
My friend Andrew's been hiking plenty of times. Backpacked on trips much longer than this small 6 mile hike. I bet he knows how to read the trail markers.
Two days ago, this past Saturday, I had another six mile hike planned at another state park I hadn't been to in over a decade. But I knew Andrew had been there plenty of times. I invited him to accompany me for the trip.
I didn't realize it at the time, but what I really needed was someone who could teach me to look for the trail markers. When I set out for that miserable hike on my own last weekend, I didn't understand the importance of noticing the signs.
So, on Saturday, before we started on the trail, Andrew went to the map postings board and grabbed us a map printout. He seemed confident. I was apprehensive. Along our hike, he would give me updates of how far we'd hiked and how far we had left. When we reached a fork in the path with signs pointing every which way, Andrew stopped to explain them to me. He turned the map in directions that made sense to look at and pointed out to me which ways we had taken to get to that point, and traced the line markings on the map printout of the path we would take to get there.
When we reached another fork in the path, he showed me which way to take so we wouldn't get lost.
"Are you sure?" I asked.
"I'm more than sure!" He let me know.
We finished our hike that day with no problems. It was fun and stress-free knowing that I was with someone who could show me the way. He was my guide in the wilderness.
As much fun as it is to do my own thing and discover new places on my own, sometimes it just really sucks. Having a trusted guide to show me the way is something I'm slowly learning to give myself to.
The same applies to the paths of our lives. We are all going somewhere. If we try to do it on our own it can be scary, confusing, frustrating. When we look for help from someone who knows the path, who's been on it before, I'm sure that we will have more fun and have more peace along the way.
I'm left with this question: "Who is the guide of my life?"
I used to want to go it alone, but these days I'm looking for answers from someone who knows my path better than I do.
"I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you... I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you..."
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