“I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads.  Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.”

— Rosalia de Castro

I love Yahoo! maps.  When I’m taking a trip, I like to know where the turns lie before I place my car into the stream of vehicles on a busy highway.  I get sweaty just thinking of having to merge in an instant when I don’t know that my exit is the next one and traffic is heavy.  I guess you could say that when I’m going somewhere, I like to know exactly how to get there.  My home address is all saved on Yahoo! and all I need to do is plug in the address at my destination, and the program magically gives me the directions I need.  It even tells me how long I should expect to be on the road.

Sometimes we travel with a GPS.  This is something like Yahoo! maps, but with an electronic view of the road and a very bossy woman who reminds us every half-mile to pay attention.  As the navigator on road trips, I sort of like the idea that someone invisible will take the heat of, “I know where it is” from my sweetie who sits behind the wheel.  If he gets irritated that the GPS thinks he’s lost, it’s not on me.

Maps are great, but they don’t always prepare you for road construction that comes complete with orange signs that direct you on a detour over side roads.  At times like this, we’re left at the mercy of those arrows that proclaim “DETOUR,” and I heave a huge sigh of relief when we return to a road that appears on our map.  Even the GPS, with its know-it-all attitude, has limitations.  My daughter discovered that hers covered only the U.S. and not all of North America when she attempted to get directions to Toronto.  As soon as she crossed the border into Canada, the GPS began to whine, “Go Southeast!” again and again.  It was desperate for her to return to familiar territory and restore its ability to direct her.

Life is like that, isn’t it?  We may think we know exactly where we’re going.  We may even plot the path to get to our destination, but sometimes we find that the road is under construction and we end up someplace completely unexpected.  Sometimes we even leave our comfort zone and long only to “go southeast” until we find a familiar road where we can relax and coast along.

I like the reassurance of a map when I travel to known destinations; but when it comes to living my life, I prefer to let the path unfold and not always know what lies around the next bend.  There is no ETA on life — we just live it until the end surprises us.  If we plan too carefully or walk only familiar roads, I think we miss the fullness of the adventure.  What matters is not where we are going, but what we live as we get there.  May our lives be filled with surprises, although the path lies in view.  May we walk with an adventuresome spirit that has no need for maps and timelines.  This is the way to live fully until we live no more.