A critical component of becoming an Eagle scout is map reading and orienteering. My son needed to go on a hike for at least one mile as one of the requirements to obtain the rank of First Class Scout. Since we lived about an hour outside of Washington DC, he decided he wanted to go on a hike to see the National Mall. After we arrived at a parking spot, he pulled out his map, then said, “Let me do it.” This would have been a short adventure had we not come to a fork in the path not shown on the map. Which way was the correct way? Do we stay on the map or strike off in another direction? He chose to stay on the map–the path he thought he knew.
Like my son, I am once again at a crossroads in my life. Oh, how I wish my life had a map I could look at to see where I was and where my choices were leading me. My kids are grown; one still lives with us but is working toward moving out. My military spouse has transitioned into his 15th new job. I am starting all over again but this time feels different. Making friends is more challenging because we are not connected to a base and don’t have kids in school. My neighbors don’t understand the military lifestyle or the lingo. There is nothing to help guide my steps on how or where to dive in.
My son consulted his map to make decisions with confidence, even if we had to double back a few times. “Let me do it” was his most common statement of the day. He learned so much on this one adventure that the five hour hike was almost worth it. Even with a map, it can be easy to get turned around.
Our lives aren’t as simple as getting from Point A to Point B. Even if they were, the military would change the map every couple of years. We are constantly starting over–searching for a career, emptying the nest, saying goodbye, hoping for fulfilling work for pay or volunteer, chasing dreams, and nurturing marriages. Our maps would be a mess.
Maybe the lesson we need from my son’s Eagle Scout experience is to confidently make the best decisions with the information we have at hand and learn from every turn, right or wrong. “Let me do it” was said many times but other times he asked for help figuring out landmarks and directions. He learned that making choices, asking for help, and learning from mistakes were not bad things. We can learn valuable lessons on how to approach our lives from his example.
Are you at a crossroads? Where is your path leading? I am still standing at the crossroads, unsure which way I will go next, but I can commit to enjoying the journey and learning along the way.