At a very young age I was directed down a path I would not have chosen had I been cognizant of my surroundings. I was not navigating; I was a passenger but my navigator was untrained and careless. We are all passengers as we begin our journey through life. We will be passengers for several years before we get the opportunity to drive ourselves.
The roads chosen are not ours; we have no choice, we must follow for we cannot lead. We observe others who appear to have had control of their paths but neither they nor us had the power to guide our destiny. We generally begin to acquire our navigational skills somewhere around eleven or twelve years of age.
I know in my own personal situation I began to notice different paths, forks in the road and different turns not taken, at about 12 years old. I questioned some of the decisions of my navigator. I didn’t want to go down some of those paths; I wanted to go down a different, less traveled but straighter road.
Upon looking around and seeing others going in different directions I realized I was not living a full life. I did not have my Father; he was far, far away. My brothers and sisters were all elsewhere. I had my Mother, but she had someone else, another man. This other man was black and my Dad was white and I was slowly beginning to sense the differences.
I wish I would never have known there was a difference for it only introduced prejudice and bias to my weak little mind. I didn’t want to feel the ugly sensations and I didn’t want to think the hideous thoughts. Emotionally, up to now I was fine. Up until now I didn’t know I wasn’t black, but suddenly I did.
When I first became a navigator I was allowed just a little control, I could make my own wishes known. I could claim rights to my own path and I could venture down it when I wanted to, at least for a little way. But if my Mother didn’t want to go there she would just turn us around.
I was reckless in the early days and I was careless. I wasn’t a very good navigator. We all have our own demons. Some of them are beatable, others maybe not so much. But we need only navigate carefully to steer around them. Successfully navigating through life requires simply remaining awake and staying alert. For the most part we need only set our cruise and slowly but confidently sail through life as if on a winged ship.
Still, even sailing on cruise, as we make our way through life’s various obstacles and climb over the road-blocks and crawl through the many tunnels, we will encounter navigational puzzles. This is where we need to make navigational decisions. There will be a fork in the road. We need but make the right decision, and we will continue to glide through life with little to no worry. Make the wrong decision and our navigational skills will be greatly challenged, perhaps even damaged.
One of the first forks in the road I came to as I tried navigating my own little life was the path that led me to move back in with my Dad or the one that had me continue with Mom and her black lover. This was a two-year navigational puzzle. There were so many angles to consider and results to prepare for. The full decision was still not mine for I was no more than an apprentice navigator. All I could do was press the chief navigator, my Mother, to make the turns I preferred.
Eventually, with my navigational skills maturing, we did make that wide turn and we headed back home. From that point on I was my own navigator. Cautiously testing the water wherever I went. Most often stepping back, out of apprehension as I watched other more confident navigators, fly forward and tackle life on their terms. I remained content to slowly glide, unchallenged, through my bumpy, obstacle-ridden course.
Successful navigation through life is nothing more than a series of decisions. Each decision, small or large, will greatly affect your future navigation. You must decide only for your benefit. Outside influences cannot be allowed to persuade you to take certain turns or to run off the beaten path. Always, your navigational decisions must be made with your own peace of mind and well being foremost in your thoughts. I wish I had understood that so many years ago.
That love which was lost, the college degree gone incomplete, the army career cut short by selfishness, the perfect job sacrificed for a night on the town, so many wrong turns and so many disappointments. All of them were due to my own poor navigation.
We come into life without an owner’s manual and with little instruction of any kind. If our early caretakers have not learned what we must be taught they will not be able to transfer it to us. Without a great deal of self-control and sheer will power, we will continue on the same path. Life’s pathways are difficult; they are trying. We cannot expect to learn how to navigate them from repetition because; often you only get one chance at a particular path. Our navigational skills must be honed at an early age.
There is no answer for the novice navigator; none but to drive carefully. Keep your eyes open and your ears tuned. Think hard and consider the possible outcomes. You have but one opportunity to make that turn up ahead. Don’t let yourself come close to the end of your journey, look around and realize just how many wrong turns you really did make. Prepare yourself, for there is no second chance.