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Updated: January 26, 2014 11:51 IST

Navigate with your inner GPS

Anuradha Shyam
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Illustration by Keshav
The Hindu
Illustration by Keshav

A sense of direction in the journey of life, can bring out the best in you.

It is difficult to get lost these days.

Today, your car and your mobile can map your entire journey. A device called the GPS (Global Positioning System), can help you navigate from point A to point B with amazing precision. It will begin by presenting to you various options. It will calibrate the distance and time taken in each option, giving you clear landmarks to guide you. As you travel, the screen will track exactly where you are going. Some vehicles come with a voice-activated GPS, so you will have a companion who will assure you that you are on the right track and admonish you when you steer off course! You will know exactly how and when you will get to your destination.

Many years ago, it was commonplace to get lost. A journey meant that you would be pencilling directions in half torn scraps of paper. Everyone would be generous with their advice on the best possible route. Landmarks given would be as interesting and varied as the person behind it. It could range from, “Look out for the Pillayar kovil, the one where you will see a white cow waiting in line for darshan, to “Turn right at the neon pink and green sign of Blue-lite hairdressing studio (Gents only!).”

In many of our travels, there had been a hidden pleasure of losing our way. In the process we had met a host of companiable souls who had gone out of their way to play the role of angels. On one such journey, when we were endlessly going around in circles, a man sensing our predicament asked us to follow him. He rode on his motorcycle leading us through a maze of shortcuts before we reached the highway. Often, in the process of getting lost, we had stumbled on to hidden treasures. A wrong turn led us to a small ancient temple by the banks of a river. The few minutes we spent there in silence made up for the anxiety of getting lost. It was a random moment of exquisite beauty.

The joy of exploring

In many ways, this is a metaphor for the way we lead our lives now. We live in a culture where we are told that we must know exactly where we are going and how and when we are going to get there. We are constantly reminded to chart our five and ten-year life plans and drafts our goals with meticulous care.

Ramesh was one such student who came to seek help with his writing skills. While he was proficient with the language, he was finding it increasingly difficult to put his thoughts down in a cohesive manner for academic essays in school. While working with him on the technicalities of writing, we found that there was an underlying anxiety. Unlike his peers, who seemed to know exactly what and where they were heading after their public exams, Ramesh had no idea. In the process, he had fabricated an entire set of goals for himself, so that he would appear “cool” to his classmates. The burden of living up to his own illusions was disturbing him. Through the sessions, he was slowly able to accept the fact that he did not know what he wanted. Through the help of his teachers and family, he was slowly able to understand his own strengths and limitations. He started to channelise his confusion into finding out where his true interests lay — The internet became a valuable tool along with networking with people and working in part-time jobs to discover what he really wanted to do. Today Ramesh is in college working for a degree and he continues to find ways to discover what he really wants. He is slowly learning to tune into his own internal GPS!

We all have our internal GPS — an inner voice that tells us what we really should be doing. It is not easy to listen to that voice-it gets clouded with external pressures and expectations from all corners. Our own voice of self-criticism drowns that inner voice further. In many ways, this is the most natural process in the world. Life then becomes an exciting journey where we navigate towards what we are destined to do.

Many times we will take the wrong turning, follow misguided signposts, explore bylanes that others have warned us about, reach out for help from good Samaritans passing by and slowly make our way to our destinations. Some of us will get there in the allotted time. Some will reach that place a little later albeit with a lot more experience!-When we are on that journey, it is hard to see all our experiences as part of a larger canvas. In hindsight, everything that has led you to where you are, has had a purpose, it has been a signpost, either nudging you to persevere or posing you to change tracks.

Quality based

“Follow your dream” is today’s mantra. While this is absolutely essential, it is also necessary to realise that sometimes things can take a different turn.

Since she was young, Sumitha always wanted to be a fashion designer. She had been selected for admission into a Fashion institute when there was a sudden personal crisis. Her father, who was the sole breadwinner, of the family passed away in an automobile accident. Responsibilites were thrust on her young shoulders and she decided that she had to choose an option that would give her a viable career option. A family member suggested ‘Speech therapy’ and she found herself training to be a speech therapist. It was a complete departure from what she had wanted to do. Five years passed, and Sumitha is now working as a speech therapist, supporting her younger brother’s education. In her work, many of her patients describe her as a creative therapist — someone who finds innovative ways of working with patients.

Sumitha has tapped into her own inner voice — which was one of creativity and innovation. The desire to be a fashion designer was merely the outer form. She has successfully transcribed that voice into a completely new avatar. Sumitha’s story was a personal epiphany — that our inner voice mirrors our innate qualities and that we can manifest them in any form. Failure and success are illusions of the same coin. We are blessed to be given a life to be lived as a journey. Use the signposts the external world gives you, but, somewhere, take the time to introspect and find that inner voice. You can be rest assured, however varied your journey might be, your inner GPS never malfunctions! Enjoy-getting lost!

All names have been changed.

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