After driving for over an hour beginning at the sea, going through the countryside and somehow winding up in the mountains, something amazing happened. I completely lost my way while trying to reach a friend’s house for a relaxing Sunday lunch. This occurred due to my interest in observing the beauty of varied Italian landscapes, a steady stream of consciousness, and a faulty navigator.
As I tried to reach one destination, I ended up in another that was unexpected. Even though descending the mountain through tiny medieval roads while negotiating oncoming traffic was terrifying at first, it was equally exciting. It was the detour I was supposed to take yet still managed to arrive where I was meant to be (although late). Furthermore, I was greeted with so much love and a feast of regional delights that far surpassed what I even imagined. It dawned on me that although I had a set plan and purpose for the day, something shifted and caused me to turn left rather than right. “La vita e’ fatta cosi’ ” is one of my favorite Italian expressions, which translates to “this is how life is made”.
By embracing this sentiment, we realize that life is made to reveal various possibilities, paths, and choices. Once we decide through free will which one we’d like to follow, we are forever growing and changing. A dear friend once said to me that in life there are two types of people that take a journey. The turtle, who takes his/her time while often cautiously living life from the shell. There is only so much they can give and receive at their comfort level and pace, yet shouldn’t be overlooked and made to feel less loved through their self-imposed barriers. And then there is the giraffe, who is able to see life from a higher vantage point and is more expansive to share with ease. But must remember that not everyone sees and feels at their speed or may never reach their point of view. They also tend to give generously, yet neglect their well being along the way.
Living both realities as a turtle and a giraffe, I understand the duality of these dynamics. There are times the slow and steady route is more beneficial and allows me to process things in my own context and way—by being practical, reserved, and exercising self-preservation. Yet many other of my experiences stem from being decisive and willing to take larger steps with my head held high. Neither one is better than the other, but just simply two different perspectives. It’s the difference from going from step Z in order to arrive at A as a giraffe or beginning at step A and arriving to Z as a turtle. Somehow or another, balance is met somewhere in between.
By applying this simple principle within our lives, that some of us fall into one category or another or perhaps even both, we can navigate our journey with more excitement and curiosity rather than the fear of the unknown colored with a tinge of dread. The point is this: it truly doesn’t matter how fast or slow it takes us to venture out on our life’s journey while making stops, turns, and veers along the way. For when we hit our stride, we enjoy the pleasure of riding it out on newly paved and direct roads. We are truly never lost if we believe that we’re heading in the right direction.
Even when the going gets tough and we can’t understand why it has to be such a harsh trip, remember that it’s for self-growth. Don’t take it personally as it was not intended to be purposefully hurtful. It’s all neutral; it’s just how we choose to perceive it and let it serve its purpose. For when we arrive at those amazing destinations that we’ve desired in our heart, it’s only that much sweeter and more rewarding. Throw out the map, disconnect from GPS, and take the scenic route with a loose plan—it will actually make the arrival to the destination happen with much more excitement, spontaneity, and less expectation.