It all started when I decided to take three of my kids for a bike ride. The two younger ones managed to convince Danny, their older teenage brother, to come along. Being a typical teenager, Danny preferred to ride way ahead of us. This was fine until the return journey. We had to travel across a long bridge and when we got to the end, Danny was nowhere to be seen. I planned taking a left exit ramp and assumed he had taken a right and gone down under the bridge. I pedaled a few meters in that direction and called out to him a few times. Not being in the mood for tolerating his independent attitude and in a hurry to get home, I took the younger ones back figuring Danny would find his way back home soon enough.
Upon returning home, his mum, being a mum, was concerned Danny was not with us. I, being a dad, wasn’t worried and said something to the effect of “serves him right for not waiting for us” and promptly left for an appointment. It was my turn to start getting worried an hour later at dusk when my wife called to inform me Danny was still not back. Thankfully a second call followed five minutes later informing me Danny had just arrived forlornly pushing his bicycle down the drive. Seems not only had he become lost but had also got a flat tyre to boot!
A few days after, Danny and I went out for a thick shake and some quality time together. I apologized about not waiting for him and gently asked him why he didn’t just follow the river to get home as it would have taken him back ( it seemed really simple to me!). He said “Dad I followed the river but then when I couldn’t see it anymore I turned down another street because I thought that was the right way to go”. Not wanting to make him feel bad, i didn’t mentioned anything more about it, but we looked up a map together and I showed him the correct route and he saw where he’d gone wrong.
A week or so later, I was cycling by myself to a morning community event. All was going fine for me while I followed the river, but then when I lost sight of it and ended up in unfamiliar territory, I had to ask a woman walking her dog for directions. After following her instructions, I crossed a bridge and continued on my way, not recognizing where I was, but being convinced I was going in the right direction. Sound familiar? After 10 minutes, it became clear I was completely lost! I ended up asking an elderly gentleman on a bike who led me to the correct location. I was surprised how off the track I had gone, and had in fact, gone right pass the turn off!
On the return journey, I traveled the same way I had come to get there when I had been travelling without knowing where I was. I suddenly realized it was actually a route I had gone many times before. Because I had thought I was somewhere else, I hadn’t recognized my surroundings. it was like everything was different!
One thing that stood out to me from this experience ( besides the obvious one of not being too critical of others mistakes! ) was how much the way we view things are affected by the maps we are following, our pre conceived notions of the way things ought to be. So many conflicts arise when we feel our “way” is the “only way” and don’t take time to see things from another’s point of view. When we genuinely seek to understand others people’s views and their concerns, it brings us closer to finding a solution that is beneficial for both parties. It’s only then that we move can forward to finding a resolution that makes everybody happy.
We also limit ourselves when following maps that we have created in our minds often affected by past experiences and the influences of other people. Being able to break free from these often negative “maps” opens up a whole new world of opportunity to us because we can then view our current circumstances from a totally different viewpoint. Start drafting a new map for yourself today and set sail for new horizons!