The Gift of Disoriented

And so we came off the trail a few days early and a wise decision but Now What? What to do when the plans you had made need to be abandoned, when where you thought you would be is not where you are? Now what?  

And what’s this? The only thing that’s sore after the days on the trail is my right hand. I mean really sore and now I see swollen. I call other hikers to ponder the mystery and they agree with my diagnosis that it had to be gripping my poles too tight descending those four and a half miles off the Priest. I get recommendations on new poles to purchase and I continue to ignore my sore hand and wish it were otherwise. When days later things are not otherwise, I wonder if perhaps it might be a good idea to get my hand checked out. At first the doctor thinks it might be an infection, maybe a bone chip, perhaps tendinitis. All I know is that whatever it is, this is not how I want it to be.

Another round of tests determine that it seems to be tendinitis and my right hand confined to a splint for “a week, perhaps two.” But it’s not only my right hand that’s bound, it’s me, bound up in pining that I’m not finishing the last section of the trail we had abandoned now that the weather has cleared and not able to do the writing I’d been looking forward to.  

When the boat gets tippy in gusting wind, when things get out of sorts, too often I return to do all the things that aren’t helpful to do in disorienting times when things are not like I want them to be. 

I remember sailing that day when the wind came up and I clung on tight – held the tiller, held the mainsheet – did not, would not, let go until the boat tipped and began filling with water. I remember what I so often forget and feels so unnatural, when things get disoriented, the key is to let go. Let everything go and the boat will come around, head up into the wind and stop.  

Perhaps now, the time to not deny or fight or bemoan the disorientation but to let go and let the disorientation set the sails to a new orientation. 

It’s the old adage of instead of trying to change it, fix it, to see it and feel it, accept how it is. To put down “not how I want it to be” and “poor me” and pick up “this is how it is”. To not keep endlessly pursuing and bemoaning what I can’t do but the opportunity to ponder what I now can.  

When I am so set on my little plans and goals I can’t see all I am missing that is not included in my nice little plans. But when the plans have to go and I finally stop trying to get them back, I get to see what is there, out there beyond that tight little path of my plans and goals.  

In the disorientation of the present, I get to wonder again, what really matters?  Maybe I have other options. Maybe paths I had abandoned can be re-imagined and re-interpreted. Maybe I can turn all that energy I put into pining for an imagined past or bemoaning plans I can’t now complete into the creation of a vibrant future.  

Last Sunday afternoon I went to the Wild Church Spiritual Community in D.C.  We gathered in the woods by the Potomac surrounded by bright yellow beech, a floor of brown dry leaves and contemplated the gifts of the dark. 

After a 20 minute time of wandering the woods, I came back with my seven words I heard in the listening, “It couldn’t have happened any other way.”

So in the last weeks off the trail, amidst everything not as I would have had it be, thankful for the gifts of what is. Thankful for the gift that disorientation has given in slowing and showing possibilities I might never have seen. 

One thought on “The Gift of Disoriented”

  1. So hard to just be in the present and embrace what simply IS. So important to remember that you are not alone in facing this challenge. We are all —all of us humans—in this together. XXOO


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