The past year left us with a problem. What are we going to do now?
Washington Irving wrote the story of a man who goes to sleep only to wake 20 years later. He discovered he missed so much, such as the American Revolution. He lived in a different world than the one he left.
His name was Rip Van Winkle.
Everyone is having a Rip Van Winkle moment. A year after the pandemic began, we puzzle about the new world in which we woke.
Here we are, lost in a world that has changed due to pandemic sleep. We found routines and habits upended or even ended. The last year forced our schedules, the way we work, and educate children into a mold we did not choose.
Life does that. We think we have choices, but time makes decisions for us.
None of us are the same people as we were a year ago. The last year recast life as we know it. Recently I entered a place I frequented a year ago and came out with the feeling of “foreign familiarity.” It looked the same, but I found it unfamiliar
Now we must choose how to live anew.
Some want to return to the old normal, but the old normal disappeared. Favorite restaurants shuttered and frequented shopping malls gasp for life.
For many workers, “office” has become wherever a laptop can go and find an internet connection.
How do we find our way forward?
We all must become a wayfinder.
Many definitions (many too narrow) exist. The best comes from the 2016 Disney movie Moana. Moana, seeking to get to a distant island commandeer’s an egotistical hero named Maui. She implores him to teach her to “sail.”
He responds that it is not about sailing, wayfinding. He tells Moana, “it is finding our way to where we want to go from where we have been.
Wayfinding is not wandering. The first seeks a direction while the latter is rudderless.
As the sailor looking at charts and compass, we must “find our way forward.”
Take three steps.
Orient to Today
I once drew a map for someone but forgot to put the “north pointing arrow” on the map. He ended up on the other side of town because he turned my map upside down.
Stop and ask, “where am I right now?”
What are you doing right now? Is it better or worse? What would you like to continue?
If you don’t know where you are, you can never determine where you are going?
Point Toward Tomorrow
Once a sailor knows his position on the map, he can draw a line to where he wants to go.
As I have reached this stage, I know some things are true. I want the calmness to continue. Time has filtered in where it used to fill with trivial things. I want to throw the unnecessary overboard.
If you looked forward two or three years, what do you want to be true about your life then?
Take a Step in That Direction
Now, begin the new journey.
As Dave Evans and Bill Burnett put it, make “minimal action plans,” the smallest step to move forward.
Clean out your calendar. Take a class to help you do what you want. Learn something different.
The enemy of intention is inaction. Start living the life you decide to live.
We are not the same people we were. We have changed, and we will continue to change. But, we received a gift, the gift of starting over. Few receive the opportunity to reset their lives.
What will yours look like as you find your way?