Lately, I've been busy erasing the lines of the invisible cage I drew around myself long ago. It goes without saying that this is liberating and scary. I find myself feeling like a loony toons character running frantically in thin air beside the edge of a cliff.
In many ways, our generation lives without the map and compass of intact culture, more so than any before. Our religions and governments are failing us. True, we do stand on the backs of giants, but we also stand on the backs of philosophical excess and brokenness, of slavery and oppression. We feel a need for a radical reinventing of the proverbial wheel. We have lost our guides and our way. We often can't even see the stars. Only one out of 8 Americans will ever live in a place where they can see the Milky Way. There are limitless problems in the world seeming to demand a lifetime of dedicated work. We have lost the trail. We are in an existential time of aidless nagivation.
The thing about aidless navigation is: there are techniques to it. Here's a few.
1. To walk a straight line, line up three objects: that dead ash, that crooked branch on that sugar maple, that forked tulip poplar. Once you get to the sugar maple with the crooked branch, pick something beyond the forked tulip poplar that's also in that straight line.
Most of us have one dominant leg that takes bigger steps and pushes off harder: mine is my right and so I know I'll veer to the left, and eventually, make a royally frustrating and -if you're lost enough- terrifying circle. Lining up those non-moving objects keep you true.
2. Make your own blazes to guide you back to where you've started. I've done this by propping up dead branches to mark my way back to camp and my water and my pack on solo wanders. Some folks do it in thick thickets by snapping twigs back, leaving them attached and facing all the same direction. Then you just follow them home.
3. Cultivate a birds-eye view perspective, and a mental mapping practice. This is supposed to be real real good for your brain. Study maps. Use them as wall art.
Maybe these apply to our lives in some way. If you want to work all that out, please do. For now, I'm too focused on soft places to sleep, soft shoulders to cry on, and taking deep breaths for all that.