Where Are You?

There was an article in the paper recently where Coventry City Council had put up one of those street maps with a large arrow showing you where you are. Unfortunately the arrow was in the wrong place and instead of highlighting the street that you were on was pointing to a street some half a mile away! Apparently it caused some confusion with shoppers and tourists wandering aimlessly trying to figure out where  they were. It’s a bit like your sat nav telling you that you have reached your destination when you know full well that you haven’t.

It got me thinking about where I am at the moment. Am I just where the arrow is pointing? Have I successfully reached my destination? Is this where I expected to be 10 years ago, 5 years ago? I don’t think so. None of us can accurately plan exactly where we want to be at any given time. We might dream but those dreams and our circumstances change. This is what makes life so exciting and so interesting, not being 100% sure about what tomorrow might bring.

It doesn’t do us any harm though to pause and think, “Where am I now? Do I like being here?” Sometimes it might even be, “Where am I now and how the hell did I get here?” It is at times like this that we need to take stock and make decisions. For many people when they check the sat nav to see where they are they might very well decide that it is somewhere that they don’t want to be, it’s not the destination they had planned. It might be that they are in a job that they hate, or in a relationship that is going nowhere. For many who discover that they are in the wrong place there is an air of acceptance, they don’t really want to be here but they don’t have the courage to head off in a different direction. Seth Godin in his great book ‘Tribes’ says that we are often afraid to do things differently and that this fear is holding us back.We have somehow arrived in the wrong place but are too afraid to change:

“I think that people are becoming ever better at following, but are never learning to lead. They’re following instructions, following directions, following the pack and honing their skills – but hiding. Hiding from fear of leading.”

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About Mike

Now that I'm retired I have more time to devote to writing my blog and creating short stories.
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7 Responses to Where Are You?

  1. Anonymous says:

    I really enjoyed reading this post Mike, as having the long summer holidays -and Lucy being away, enabled me to not only take stock on quite a few things in my life, but I have had the time and opportunity to listen to others about their life path. Your ‘air of acceptance’ resonated with me; what are the rules for acceptance? When is it acceptable to accept, and when is it not? Does accepting mean you are somehow weaker? Or does not accepting mean you are selfish? Maybe it is not always fear that is holding us back, but realism. For me, I feel that being realistic is an important attribute to have in life; it’s when my inner voice shouts louder than my realistic one which then prompts me to take action. It’s not happened often, but it has massively changed my life path when it has. But it is at a cost. Or does it always have to be? For others, maybe their voices just don’t shout loud enough, or simply don’t want to be heard. I came across these two quotes recently;

    ‘It is easy to be the person you have always been, for it requires no change, no self-reflection and no growth’.

    ‘A dynamic life is a constant struggle against complacency’.

    • Jane! says:

      oops, meant to put my name – but you know who I am!!

    • Mike says:

      I love the quotes Jane, especially the first one. It is so easy to be the person you’ve always been – I think that these are the people who have stopped listening to that inner voice. The ‘fear’ is not so much a simple case of being afraid but more a case of fear of what other people might think and say. We often don’t do something because we are afraid of what others might think & say. This can be so limiting. One of the key moments in my career when I ignored what others might think or were saying was when I applied for Oakwood & that turned out to be the most fun I’ve ever had.

  2. Jane says:

    Yes, society, other people, can put so many constraints on us. We will just go with the norm because that is what is expected. But when we don’t, when we don’t listen to others, how is that perceived? Are we merely being selfish?

  3. Joanne says:

    This is very deep but a brilliant set of thoughts. I have had many conversations with Jane about this over the summer. One of my favourite books I constantly re refer to is called ’10 Secrets for Success and Inner Peace’ by Dr Wayne Dyer, the secret that springs to mind about the above thoughts is secret number 2: ‘Don’t die with your music still inside you’. During this chapter, Dyer talks about the conflict of your right and left brain. Your left brain is the logical one, telling you to follow the expected path. Following only the left brain will lead us to be a pretender or commuter. And can often lead us to becoming ill, stressed or having bad luck. This illness, stress or bad luck, he believes, is your right brain crying out to do it your own way! I believe this too, how many people become ill and decide then to live their life the way they want to?
    On the other hand, the right brain is your own unique music trying to get out and play – your reason for being on this earth. He writes about how we have to follow our own unique drum beat within, and quotes Henry David Thoreau ‘If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer’. He says like, Seth Godin, that it is fear that holds us back, more precisely fear of failure. But interestingly he goes onto say that we never fail at anything, as everything we do produces a result. It is what we do with the result that’s important. And that failure is someone else’s judgement, an opinion, which exists only in the minds of people.
    Within the same chapter he urges us all to do what we have to in order to feel whole and complete – not what others think we should do, what others expect of us. If we fit in, in order to lead a comfortable life, then we fit in with another book that someone else has written! When we do what comes from within, we feel passionate and inspired. He reminds us that the word ‘inspire’ comes from ‘in spirit’. When we are inspired, we never have to ask about our purpose, as we know we’re living it. I know I feel this way in my job! How many others can say this? So he encourages us to ask ‘What’s your passion?’ ‘What stirs your soul?’ Know it for certain!
    As I have embarked on another IVF try, I too have had lots of time to do soul searching about my reasons for doing it and putting myself, and everyone else around me, through it! Is it society’s expectations or pressure? Is it because I feel I need to? No, I know it is because children stir my soul. They bring happiness, passion and inspire me to be a better person. I want this in my private life, but if it is not to be, I have it with my family and friends and in my job every day. I count myself very lucky. So I am making sure I have done enough to ensure I do not die with my music still inside of me or at least to quieten the drum beat so realism can be heard to. I will try until it no longer ‘feels’ right!

    • Mike says:

      A great response Joanne. Dr Wayne Dyer’s book looks like one I need to add to my list. I love the idea of not keeping pace with your companions because you might be hearing a different drummer. Why is it that, to the mavericks of this world, that drumbeat is so loud and so strong but no one else seems to hear it. Or is it a case that other can hear it but it frightens them so they replace it with the company song.

      In Ken Robinson new book, ‘The Element’ he talks about the importance of imagination, “….. far more than any other power, imagination is what sets human beings apart from every other species on earth.” Yet many people are critical of ‘imagination’ – talking about people with ‘overactive imaginations’ or that what they believe is ‘all in their imagination’. The people who get on, who toe the company line, are the ones who pride themselves on being ‘down to earth’ or ‘realistic’ rather than ‘having their heads in the clouds’. I always thought that that was a great place to have my head!

      Another quote from ‘The Element’ – “Imagination underpins every uniquely human achievement. Imagination led us from caves to cities, from bone clubs to golf clubs, from carrion to cuisine and from superstition to science.”

  4. Jane says:

    This is a lovely and succinct way of expressing our recent conversations Jo. Trying until it no longer feels right, whether it be, if that is to be the case, after the 3rd or 10th is the truest and most honest way to be. Not because society dictates it. So, when is it acceptable to accept? When your ‘inner music’ tells you – not when society does.

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