I hate not knowing where I am going. I want to know where I am, what the next turn is, and how to get out of the maze! I think a lot of us navigate our life instead of letting life navigate for us. Our lives are tidy with navigation gadgets on our phones and in our cars. We don’t leave home without something to tell us where we are going.
I readied myself for a trek to Vermont. I had not one, but two phones, each with a different carrier. I had multiple maps, one downloaded from Mapquest and the others picked up from the local AAA office. I was all set! I mapped out my route. My maps were beside me, my phones plugged in, and my gas tank was full.
I was excited. I had in my possession a well-executed plan. A visit to the Brattleboro Farmers Market, a stop at The Vermont Country Store, and finally a hike in the Taconic Mountains to view the majestic gardens left behind by the Carson Davidson irrevocable trust. According to the weather, the rain was to stop by noon, well before I was due on the trail, so I figured a perfect day was at hand.
But, perfection isn’t always in the plan. Or perhaps, that is the plan. To show you perfection in an imperfect day.
I crossed over the state line and entered Vermont. Just ahead was the Vermont welcome center. Time to stop and explore some more. What else can I learn? Where else can I stop? And then all my plans went out the window! The greeter pulled out a map and suggested I take another route from the farmers market to the store so I could see the covered bridges. Seemed easy enough to me.
I arrived at the farmers market. Probably because it was forty-five degrees out and rainy there were a few empty stands. The aroma of fresh cooked bacon and eggs waffled through the air. I was like a child in a toy store. Where to first? Organic veggies, cheese, mushrooms, ginger? Alpaca clothing, artistic and functional wood pieces? Pottery? So much to look at and then my eye caught the essence of this market. Percolated coffee. No drip maker, no fill in up and move them out. There next to the enormous baking powder biscuits that melted in your mouth were three percolators brewing coffee to the perfect temperature. The percolators were old, beat up from excess use, but they were genuine and made you feel at home. After I had my fill I strolled by the brook that runs close to the stream and off I went. I had so much in my planner I needed to do! Maps in hand, phones tethered to the outlet making sure each was at 100% capacity, my next stop was The Vermont Country Store.
Or was it? On a road less traveled, there is so much to stop and see. The covered bridges, the next farmer’s market, Aunt Millie’s pie store. Oops, so much for plans. But, I was off. Off to the store, grab a lunch, and climb that peak.
I arrived at the Vermont Country Store with my usual enthusiasm for exploring all the unique, different, and useful tools they have. I paid for my new treasures and crawled back in the car. I wanted to backtrack for a couple of great photos I saw along the way and then I would be off on the next leg of my trip.
As I rounded the curb I pulled over in the soft shoulder, got my camera, and began to take photos. I had to preserve this moment. Slowly I realized that with the rain still coming down today was not a good day to hike a steep hill. Everything would be slippery and wet, not exactly ideal. Not exactly the perfect day I planned. I travelled back hoping to find my way out of the mountain passage. My best laid plans were tangled in the mountain splendor.
As I traveled, I soon realized that I had no idea where I was going. But along the way were some of the most breathtaking sights! Siri was no help on these roads. She was not available. The maps were little guidance. As current as they were, these roads were nowhere to be found on the maps. These roads are the roads the farmer takes home from market, the college student from college, the soldier from war, the visitor to a hostess, the child from school, the parent after a long day at work. These roads are well traveled and well known. But for me, one who panics when Siri tells me to take a left and I take a right, these roads were unknown and the chance to let go of my control. With Siri lost in never, never land, maps that traced the main highways, I was at the whim of the universe. If I panicked I would be useless. I had stopped on the way to the store and filled up my gas tank, so I knew I would not run out of gas. I pulled to the side of the road, looked at the map, and decided that it was time to embrace the opportunity of life without direction. It was time to trust that the path I was on, is part of the journey that I have no control over. That life is a journey, not a destination. I spent the next couple of hours letting the roads bring me to where they went. I saw pastoral scenes, cows grazing, and the sun breaking through the clouds illuminating the lush carpet of the mountain. I knew that at the end, there would be a sign, a highway, or a corner store that would put me back on my path but for now, I had no agenda, no plan, no ability to control. And, I was okay.
As I wound my way down the mountainside, I found the road that would lead me to home. It was with sadness that I let this freedom go, once again trying to hold on to something that was not mine to hold. When Siri woke up I asked her to bring me home. She did, but on her terms. I had no idea where she was bringing me as she told me to take a right or left. I became frustrated but quickly realized that I was exactly where I needed to be and I needed to let go. It was then that I knew that the day held an important lesson. The lesson of letting go. So, I did. I let Siri bring me home. I no longer questioned where I was going. Siri brought me to new places, a winery, an orchard, and a small town for dinner. Still lost, but I knew exactly where I was. At home letting go.
You see, the best in life is found when you let life happen.