The beginning:
40*6’39″N 83*45’5″W
Low elevation, 1,050 feet above sea level

It was 1975, the summer I learned to ride a bike.  It was simple, easy.  Jump on, here’s the road you have to take to get to the fun.  Sweet, summer wind-blown bicycle hair, no destination in mind. Innocence and freedom. No map needed! Navigating the world was effortless when you are five years old.

Intellectual mapping became my way to get around.  Through the eyes of others, I could view the world.  My father, my hero, had visited most of the major map coordinates on the globe, traveling for his work, before I finished college. It seemed like a glamorous life. He worked so hard for us. London, Paris, Amsterdam, Singapore, Hong Kong, Phoenix, Seattle, to name just a few. While he was gone, my mom kept us safe and close to home.

Most times, my destination was clear.  Follow these directions and you will reach your destination.  Be a good girl, do everything right, follow the rules.  Follow directions.  Don’t get lost, no matter what you do!   Ingrained in me, “don’t get lost.” Their good advice, their wisdom, played on and on, programmed to believe that if I got lost, bad things would happen.  I followed the rules.  Over time, inevitably, I got lost, frazzled and had to pull over.  I gathered my senses, my directions, picked up a map, got back up and kept moving.  Time after time, I got lost.  But it never stopped me.  Out of the hundreds of times I got lost, I made it to my destination, every time.  There were scenic routes that surprised me. There were detours, equalling dark times, that scared me. Some detours made no sense at all. Sometimes I would stumble upon a sign that spoke to me, a clue about something I needed to know, for my future self.  All those signs are now coming together. All of the detours, I am now grateful for.

There were places I visited that surprisingly would become part of my grand strategy.  There were people I met that passed by me without a second thought. There were people who have stuck by me since that summer of ’75.

Fast forward, 40 years….

There are those places that keep me coming back.  There are those people who keep me going.  My mom. My dad. They are still here. I am grateful. New faces appeared as I rode along oblivious to what was coming. Along a route named “M”, a road I thought was completed, a journey I thought was planned and done, was really just beginning on a date that seems inconsequential now. A date somewhere, written on a forgotten calendar.

During all the times I thought I was lost, those were just character building roads, strengthening moments, integrity building signs.  Those scenic routes, detours and dark places were landmarks, pinpointing pivotal points in my uneven journey to today.

The summer of 1975 was a free-spirited summer.  Now, I want to chase the endless, innocent summers to the pinnacle of my life.  At my half-way point, my latitude and longitude coordinates are adjusting.

It’s time to put down the security of the map and follow where my heart leads me.  I’m pretty sure it’s a beautiful, magical place, where I belong.

The End:
36*34’43″N 118*17’3″W
High elevation 14, 491 above sea level

Love and Light, M

(Photo of the author, summer of 1975)

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