I stay up late – and no, not because I’m a musician. Probably partly because I’m wired that way. . . and partly because I work from home (On a side note, anyone that says that you don’t work as much from home is delusional. I work twice as much as I did when I was 8-5). I work a lot during the day, but baby and kid demands that I stay up late. It works better that way anyway – I correspond with China and they’re 14 hours ahead. . . wait. what was I talking about?
Oh yeah, direction. Ha.
So my brain usually needs to wind down after I’ve been working on spreadsheets til 12am, so I watch a little TV. And the other night I watched “I Am Alive” about the Uruguayan rugby team that crashed in the Andes and 16 of the members survived for 2 ½ months. I’ve seen it before, but this time I was struck with the fact that they were only 18 miles from a town, and those 18 miles were primarily through valleys. The way that they ended up getting help was 2 of their members hiked for 11 days over 40 miles of treacherous mountain terrain. Why didn’t they go the easy route? Because just after the crash, the co-pilot in a state of delirium stated that they had flown over the Andes mountains into Chile. He died soon after.
But the co-pilot was incorrect. They had not yet crossed the Andes. They were not in Chile. They were still in Argentina. But the survivors believed that they were in Chile until they were rescued.
And the 2 men that trekked across the mountains went the hardest, longest, most treacherous way because they were mis-directed. They didn’t know where they were and it deeply impacted their journey to safety and rescue.
But the way this story ends – they made it. And it completely changed a man’s life named Nando Parrado. He learned the value of life and realized that for the rest of his life he wanted to LIVE. And he did – becoming a sports car racer and now is a motivational speaker. Even though he was NOT in the place he thought he was in the mountains. Even though he went on a journey twice as long, twice as far and twice as difficult as what he should have, he was able to find his way. He was able to find his salvation.
I look back at many times in my life and I see so many times where I have made decisions and judgments based on where I THOUGHT I was – only now I understand that I was not in that place. And the journey I traveled was longer and more difficult than what it should have been.
Some of us are cursed with being hard-headed and have difficulty trusting our instincts. When Nando reached the summit of the first mountain and saw only mountains in front of him, there was a spark of realization that they were not where the co-pilot had said they were. His friend, Roberto Canessa looked around and saw what looked like a road through a valley quite close to them. But they believed so strongly in where they thought they were, that they ignored this possibility. Yet, that was the road that led to a village only 18 miles away – and not across the treacherous mountains in front of them.
We maintain our beliefs so strongly of where we are and who we are that we do not see what is right in front of our eyes. It is the human condition. It is our blindness about ourselves that sometimes holds us back.
And then again, I recall my favorite Zen story about the farmer that loses his horse. His neighbors say, “What bad luck!” The farmer says, “Maybe.” The next day the horse comes back with several wild horses. The farmer’s neighbors say, “What good luck!” The farmer says, “Maybe.” The farmer’s son spends the next day trying to break one of the wild horses. The horse bucks him off and the son breaks his leg. The neighbors say, “What bad luck!” The farmer says, “Maybe.” The next day the army comes through to take young men off to fight in the war. They cannot take the son because of his broken leg. The neighbors say, “What good luck!” The farmer says, “Maybe.”
There is purpose in every path that we take. It is difficult to say whether it is good or bad – even in hindsight. There is only right now. There is only who you are – and the reality of who you are is that where you have been has brought you to this place.
Nando Parrado and Roberto Canessa survived one of the most heroic treks in human history. Professional mountain climbers have stated that it would have been a difficult journey, even with standard mountain trekking equipment. And Nando and Roberto did it with sparse, handmade provisions and tools.
The loss of direction brought them in touch with their inner heroes and strength that few of us ever tap into. As I watched the program, I reminded myself that my loss of direction at times in my life has brought me where I am today. And regardless of the things that I wish I would have done differently, I am glad that I am here and I can truly say that I have found a person that I never would have found without the journey that I went on.
As an artist, I would be just another voice. IF I would have become a songwriter, I would not have written the songs that I have written. And as a woman, I would not understand half of who I am or who I am supposed to be.