Giving Directions

“A gift can be as simple as giving directions to someone who looks lost, or flipping a map right side up” — A new friend.

I love giving directions.

I was a tour guide — in college — and a pretty good one! Maps fascinate me, and I love the challenge of breaking down directions in a way the person receiving them can easily follow or understand.

When giving directions, my first thought (to myself)might be, “How would I get there,” but the answer I usually give is is closer to “What is the best way to make sure you get to where you’re going.”

I’m branching out into new terrain in a lot of areas of my life; I’ve lost some of this gift of providing directions, because I’m a little disoriented myself. If I’m the one asking for directions, that means I’m lost.

Recently, while riding my bicycle someone asked me how to get to a specific train station; I had just gotten lost riding to the same one the night before. After a small pause I realized I didn’t have the answer, and reached for my phone. “I’m sorry, I’m pretty new to this neighborhood myself, and just got lost getting there last night.”

Seeing my discomfort, he said, “Don’t worry about it,” and he rode off in the right direction towards the Bedford Avenue L stop.

I gave all I could give at the time — solidarity and a willingness to figure it out. This man didn’t want that gift, and that’s ok.

There is less comfort for me now in the camaraderie of meeting others who are lost. I’m learning that, in order to thrive in this time of uncertainty, to pivot in a direction of success, I have to examine more deeply this response to others who are lost.

Right now, all I have to give is my camaraderie and support; I don’t have all the answers, and that makes me uncomfortable. My instincts tell me that I’m not giving enough, but I’m learning that leaning into to others even when I’m unsure creates a beautiful collaborative opportunity — a gift of empowerment.

I’m also learning that sometimes, gifts are rejected — not needed, or not wanted — and that is ok.

That gift of joint discovery is still special. It is enough.