“Wait, how do we get to Fifth Avenue again?”, asked my aunt. She was trying to understand how to navigate the NYC subway system and she thought she could figure it out by observing how I did it. This was my 4th time here, so I took the navigation process for granted.
“Oh, so it says here we need to take line 1. First look at the direction train 1 is headed to, either downtown or uptown, then you double check when you get down there that the last stops are the same as the one on your phone. Also, make sure you’re going down the right subway entrance. Oh, oh and check if it’s the express or local! Makes a difference”, I said. Yeah she still didn’t get it.
Then, she commented “Well I suppose if I really wanted to figure it out, I’d have to do it myself without you”.
I thought about that. I suppose it didn’t occur to me that I was better at this because I had gotten lost so many times. Sometimes, it’d be the wrong entrance, another time I accidentally took the express instead of the local. There were also many instances when I was trying to get to a particular building and I’d miss it by five blocks. These mistakes taught me well and my sense of visualization of myself on a map eventually became heaps better.
Whenever I got lost (usually when driving), I’d always think “Well, at least now I know what not to do”. I’d once accidentally missed a turn on the way to Kroger and ended up on the highway and in a small neighborhood near AA. It was pitch dark and when I tried to steer the car into the opposite side of the road, I was afraid I’d nearly end up in a ditch I couldn’t see. Nonetheless, I got to Kroger and shopped before it closed.
All this business of getting lost served me well when someone commented, “You have a good sense of direction” as we got back on route after my shotgun rider forgot to inform me to get off the next exit.
Maybe amidst all this grappling and flailing with ‘life’, we have to accept that we may never have a great sense of direction in our lives. We can’t have it all, not when we’re so young. I suppose if we just lived, accepting everything that we choose in the moment, disastrous or not, we’ll know if it is right for us. We’ll know what we want, what makes us truly happy or how to find those answers.
We’ll also have to acknowledge that we won’t necessarily know what is good for us. What seem like a bugger now may turn out to be an opportunity later. The challenges we are trying to breathe through right now may just equip us to manage or avoid future situations. So take it in now, breathe. Think, maybe this is a lesson I need to learn.
Have I ever regretted anything I’ve done? No. Have I regretted being friends with people who weren’t good for me? Not really. We’ve all been there, made mistakes, stumble into thorns and emerge scarred. But hey, at least now you know what not to do.
And even if we make the mistake of repeating it, it’ll just affirm the previous lesson we learnt.