It was the umpteenth time I’d driven to Los Angeles International Airport in the nearly 20 years I’ve lived in LA. And, in all those times I’d never taken the route Google Maps took me recently. It was a winding path that led me down streets and through sections of the city that were entirely new to me.
Previously I’d stuck to habitual routes, commonly known directions or the straight shot, even when traffic was abominable.
I laughed at how often I second-guessed the navigation system, overriding the guidance, thinking I knew better, so that whatever GPS I was following had to constantly recalibrate.
So, this time I decided to go with it, even as I retorted to Google: “Really? Are you sure about that?” To which she said, “In 1000 feet, turn left on Crenshaw.” “Okay, let’s see,” I said, still thinking I was going to outsmart her.
She guided me down small streets then back onto previously trusted thoroughfares only to within moments take me off the beaten path again. At one point she said, “Due to congestion ahead, I have another route that will save you four minutes? Interested?” (Really she did). In the past I would have ignored the suggestion and kept on my way, because I knew better or didn’t trust that she really knew what she was talking about. But, this time I was intrigued. So I said okay. Sure enough, I got there earlier and felt gratified that I’d learned something new that day.
I also noticed another important thing. I was completely engaged in the journey. The new way I was being shown really woke me up. Rather than operating by rote or by habit I was fully present with the guidance. Hmm.
It got me thinking about how often we ignore guidance, inner or otherwise. Even after we’ve asked for help or guidance or direction, we ignore or second-guess the answers that come. We brush off that little inkling, the soft whisper of a suggestion because we’ve never done it that way before, or because one of any number of fears creep up and tell us it will be wrong or not good enough or too hard. Or it’s the old, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”
Well, sometimes even if it ain’t broke there could be another, better way, a way that will flow if we only give it a chance.
What I can say about listening and following the guidance I was given (and asked for), is it was easy, smooth, interesting and surprising calm.
A few days later, to continue the experiment, I completely surrendered again to the GPS guidance for another jaunt across town. It was all I could do not to go the familiar way. Truth was, I wanted help on the best way to get there during morning rush hour for an early morning meeting. So I asked for guidance. Twice, when I knew the guided route would lead to a busy intersection without a light, I stayed on the “proven” path. Actually spoke out loud, “You don’t know what you’re talking about.” Only to be then stopped in a ridiculous traffic jam. Okay, okay, I said. I’ll try it your way. And, even though there wasn’t a light where she had me turn left, it was much faster and got me smoothly though the area.
Okay, lessons learned. The same lessons apply when it comes to listening to your own guidance, whether it’s someone else’s advice or your inner voice.
Ask for help and let go of preconceived notions. Sometimes there are experts and people with experience who know better.
Listen to your own inner voice or higher power. So often it’s the inner GPS guide that we ignore, that powerful voice of wisdom and inner truth.
Sometimes it’s hard to hear the right message coming through because of all of the chatter coming at you, all the time. I had a conversation with a wise friend awhile back when I was feeling particularly stressed with all I had in front of me. I was amped up and shut down. She said, “I think you’re getting too much input. Taking in too much information.” She was so right. I was taking in so much information from so many directions that I couldn’t hear my own guidance to make my right choices.
At the end of the day that’s the most important voice and guide you’ll hear.
The answer for me after that conversation was to quiet the chatter, all of it, for a while. I took a break from input, got back to meditating and journaling and took a good long breath. Then, I could hear the whispers of truth that guided me.
So, perhaps give your GPS system a break and listen. You just might wake up and forge a new path.