A Commitment to Continuous Course Correction

Have you ever been so invested in a plan that you ignore guidance – inner and outer – no matter how clear? I do that. I create a certain vision of how a project or plan or event is “supposed” to unfold and I hold on tenaciously to that vision in spite of growing input urging me to change direction.

That happened this morning when I went for a hike in the redwoods … sort of.

I love hiking and, whenever possible I try to get out during the weekend for a nice long solo hike. I love the solitude, the connection with the Earth, the quiet, the exercise.

B.E. – Before Ella – it was much easier to find time for these hikes. A.E. – After Ella – my hiking time is much harder to come by, so when a window opens up I hold onto it tightly, sometimes, as you’ll see, until my knuckles turn white, or get frostbite.

This morning I had negotiated some solo time away from the family, and I was definitely looking forward to an early morning hike in the redwoods.

When I arose at 5:30 I saw that last night was one of those rare nights of hard frost here in Northern California: The bushes, cars and nearby houses were covered with a shimmering frosty white coating. Since I don’t have the proper clothes for long hikes in 20-degree weather, I wisely chose to meditate before rushing out into the frosty, pre-dawn air.

It was almost 8:00 by the time I left, but still cold. My fingers were nearly numb when I finished scraping the frost off the car windows. As I drove I began to hear little voices of dissent in my head, questioning whether or not this early morning hike was such a good idea.

My plan was to hike for 2-3 hours then stop by a café for an hour or two of writing. As I approached my designated café, I heard a clear voice in my head saying, “Looks pretty warm and cozy in there. Maybe we should go there first! Hint. Hint.”

“Don’t worry. It will be just as nice and cozy in there after the hike!” I insisted.

When I got out of the car at Armstrong Woods my first thought was, “It’s friggin’ cold! Maybe I should go to the café first.”

But once again, that old stubborn streak kicked in with, “Once we get moving it won’t feel so cold.”

Yeah, right!

I made it about 10-minutes down the trail – felt like 30-minutes – before I stopped and said, probably out loud, “This is not fun!”

And even then, even after admitting to myself that I was definitely NOT having fun, I still had to argue with the stubborn part of myself that was invested in seeing the morning unfold in a certain way. Finally, I’m thankful to say, my wiser self – or was it just my colder self? – took charge and I turned around, and walked – quickly – back to the car, drove back to the café, and got a nice hot cup of chai.

Much better!

Do you ever do that? Do you ever get so caught up in your vision of how something is meant to unfold? Have you ever ignored, or even argued with, supportive guidance urging you to shift?

Imagine for a minute that you’re the captain of a ship. It’s the middle of a dark, foggy night and you’re attempting to get to a small island. You’re at the wheel and the navigator comes to you and says, “Captain, according to my calculations, we’re heading 10 degrees northwest of our destination.”

“Hogwash.” You say. “We’re right on course.”

Later in the night, the navigator, once again comes by and says, more adamantly this time, “Captain, I’m convinced that we’re now heading at least 15 degree northwest of the island.”

“Thank you for sharing.” You say. “Now go back to bed. I’ve got this under control.”

Soon you get tired and turn the wheel over to your subordinate with the command to, “Stay on this course until we arrive at the island.”

“Yes sir.”

Just after dawn, you’re awakened by a tentative knock on your cabin door. “Enter.” You say.

“Captain?” The navigator says timorously.

“Yes.”

“We passed the island sometime during the night. We’re now approximately 10-miles to the northwest.”

“Damn.”

We all have a navigator. It’s called our inner guidance. And I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather make that course correction the first time I hear from the navigator. This morning, that would have been long before arriving at Armstrong Woods.

There are no mistakes. There are no right or wrong decisions. There are only choices that will require course corrections and adjustments.

We don’t arrive at our destination by a perfectly straight line. Even the path that “the crow flies” is filled with constant subtle and not-so-subtle adjustments and corrections.

It’s easy to get caught up in the belief that once you make a decision and choose a course you’re done. You’re far from done. You’ve just taken the first step on the journey.

This morning as I walked back to the car, I realized how much easier my life can be if I let go of the need to “be right.” Letting go of my stubborn attachment to how things should look will open the way to fluidity and continuous change. And ultimately, that openness will lead me to my chosen destination much more quickly and gracefully.

I’m all for that!

So from this morning forward I intend to focus a significant portion of my awareness on remaining open to the inner and outer guidance providing me with suggestions for necessary course corrections.

Would you consider doing the same? Let me know. Leave a comment with your commitment to continuous course correction.