I was on a business trip in Chicago several years back. It was late fall and it was my very first trip to the Windy City so I decided after work to take a drive and do some exploring as is usually my practice when visiting another town. Global Positioning Systems (GPS) were uncommon in rental cars in the late-1990’s so landmarks, maps and gas station attendants were still the most common way of plotting a route around unfamiliar grounds.
I made my way from the office in Downers Grove to my hotel in Oak Brook before making my way east into the heart of the city on I-290 until I found myself near the campus of the University of Illinois. From there I inched my way along the teeming streets of drive-home traffic on my way to the United Center just to get a glimpse of Michael Jordan’s home court knowing full well that getting into the facility was going to be a challenge.
Unfortunately my adventure took a rather unexpected and uneventful turn when being diverted for (you guessed it) and event that was taking place that night and I found myself several blocks further east on Lakeshore Drive. I made my way back in the direction that I only perceived to be westbound traffic only to find that I had been traveling northwest until I hit I-90/94. Being from Utah where there is only one Interstate and a loop I figured that if I got on I-90/94 I would eventually see signs for I-290 again and I could double back into the city. I drove the I-90/94 for what seemed like an eternity until I saw signs for I-290, missed the interchange and ended up on I-190 that took me directly to O’Hare International Airport. I doubled-back until I could catch the I-294 and somehow ended up on I-88 until I got tired of being lost and stopped at a gas station off the interstate in Napier.
“Where ya headed?” I nice lady behind the counter asked before I could ask her the fastest way to get out of the rabbit hole I had dug myself into.
“Back to my hotel,” I mumbled, embarrassed to be in such a predicament.
“Oak Brook – Marriott.”
She took my map and with a Sharpie, drew a line from our current location all the way until my final destination – back at my hotel.
“You got enough change for tolls along the way?” She asked as she handed my map back.
“Yeah. Thanks, you’ve been a great help.”
A short while later I was back in my hotel room, flustered and exhausted that my entire evening had been consumed by road closures, detours, endless miles of unfamiliar stretches of roads and equally unfamiliar towns until I finally declared myself incompetent enough to seek help.
I thought about that a lot last night as I pondered the moments in my life when I have been lost emotionally, spiritually or when I have reached a point in life when I feel like I’m just going around in circles, never reaching my target destination or never feeling like I’m on the right course and my purpose seems unclear.
In those times I find myself saying, “I should ask someone.” And yet I can’t find the nerve or sometimes I’m too proud to admit that I need help, a little nudge, a little direction maybe even a little inspiration. But we would rather tough it out on our own even though we may absolutely have no clue which way is up or down, we know we are going to suffer some losses along the way, we know that we are going to lose/waste time and in the end we may not even be further along in the process in fact sometimes we may find ourselves farther behind. In the end we realize that if we had just stopped and asked we would have found willing help from people who are eager to help.
Earlier today this thought came to my mind – “If you’re lost in life right now you’re probably in the right place to be found.”
There are people out there who need our help but won’t ask for it. There are people who want to ask but can’t find the nerve to. There are people who want to help but don’t want to assume. We all fall into one of these categories at different times in life but can’t allow our inabilities to become our disabilities. Whether you are the one in need or the one who would like to give aid to someone in need we must use the same advice that I always give the youths that I coach – open your mouth and use your words!
No one is going to know that you’re struggling and on the flip-side, no one is going to know that you want to help if you don’t communicate. So when you’re feeling a little lost or when you want to offer your help just ask! In the end you will realize that you only felt lost but you were surrounded by people who know the way or can point you in the right direction.