Following my adventures of last week, I ended my California trip in Los Angeles and the Valley. With a tradeshow in Downtown L.A. and staying with a friend in the Valley, I learned to navigate my way to and fro pretty well. My friend’s place is up on Round Valley Road, amidst streets only wide enough for one car to pass at a time, winding roads up and down hills, limited vision around bends, and street signs hiding behind green trees. I did a test run to find the house and get to key places from it during sunlight hours on my first day there. I wanted to make sure I knew how to navigate the next few days when I had to be at the show on time in the morning. I made it to the house easily the first day, bought some groceries (ok, wine, coffee, and chocolate), and made it back in the dark just fine. And yet, when I was coming home from the show a couple days later, I got lost.
The first time I got lost I realized there was another turn I hadn’t accounted for to get to the top of the hill where the house is. (I pretty much had to realize it when I reached the main drag of Beverly Glens Road and saw I was clearly not going uphill or along any more winding roads as I needed to be.) I turned on the car headlights, peered around corners, kept with the flow of traffic, and turned around when safe. Since I didn’t know how I even missed my turn in the first place, I wasn’t sure I knew what turn to look for, but I knew I had to look. Some things seemed familiar, but it turned out they weren’t and I ended up going the wrong way. Again. But I kept on. I drove slowly, figured out where I was going, and soon enough, I was home.
The next night I was happy to return home and confident I knew the route now. To my surprise, I got lost again! This time, perhaps compensating for the turn I missed to get me lost initially, I turned on a road uphill and found myself in a completely different neighborhood. I noticed the addresses were four digits instead of five as on the street I was staying. So, I turned around and made it back down to the last street I knew I should be on. I was disappointed and confused on how I didn’t figure it out this time, even after getting lost and more familiar with the streets just the night before. I made another wrong turn and ended up right back on that Beverly Glens Road again. This time I was there I felt confident as I knew I could at least make it back to someplace close to home. I navigated quicker and with less fear than the last time, and when I did point myself closer to the right path, I found myself still lost. I kept on. I went slowly, considered landmarks as possible memories of where to turn, and politely pulled to the side to let opposite traffic pass. I was still able to enjoy snippets of songs on the radio, and finally, I found the street that was hidden to me the first time, and would lead me home.
As I drove, I thought about my paths in life and navigating those. I’ve seen businesses start up, grow, plan, and get lost. I’ve been there to help navigate, and yet doing it for myself, there are things I know better, but there are things I get lost in and with. I’ve learned from relationships past, but still am not quite sure what to do with ones in the present. But I pay attention. I stay positive. I’m not driving recklessly down the path, whether it’s the right or wrong one. I keep trying, I evaluate my options, and I keep going until I’m on track to where I want to be. And when I really get stuck or just want help, there are people to call who will be there for me. When I was driving, I thought about how this road mix-up was nothing compared to the obstacles I’ll come to in life, but it sure was telling in how to handle them. It may not always be comfortable or ideal, but it’s nothing to lose my head over.
Keep calm, carry on, and don’t hog the road.
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