I have been lost many times. I have even called my sister from the middle of Hillbrow, Johannesburg at 00:05 AM to ask for directions. My sister sat on the phone and navigated me back to safety. I had no idea where I was, because I had never been that far away from the comfort of my own home. I made sure from then on to drive with a GPS in my car. I also never took that specific Highway again. My newly acquired motto was: “When in doubt always take the Pretoria Onramp.”
We need to learn form our own mistakes. Gathering life experience is something that needs to be done alone. Yes, we can heed warnings, but nothing can replicate having a heartbreak of our own. Failure and rejection seem to affect everyone differently and that is why it is important for us all to experience it for ourselves.
But even the unpredictability of our existence assures us pain. Conflict is an invitation for change. Change is the only constant in our lives. And yet, the one aspect that doesn’t seem to change within us is our ravenous appetite for self-destruction.
“Things will change.”
“I just have to try a bit harder.”
“It’s just who he/she is.”
I have sat many a time, pouring tea for crying eyes, that of my own, and those whom I care for. I have spent many afternoons listening to detailed versions of traumatic events and unreliable friendships. I have told these stories. I have heard these stories. Sometimes I have told these stories more than once. These stories have been repeated to me. Names have changed but situations remain the same. The saline mixes into the sweet tea the same each time. It tastes like sadness and anger and sweet melancholy all at once.
“Here’s one of the things I learned that morning: if you cross a line and nothing happens, the line loses meaning. It’s like that old riddle about a tree falling in a forest, and whether it makes a sound if there’s no one around to hear it.
You keep drawing a line farther and farther away, crossing it every time. That’s how people end up stepping off the edge of the earth. You’d be surprised at how easy it is to bust out of orbit, to spin out to a place where no one can touch you. To lose yourself–to get lost.
Or maybe you wouldn’t be surprised. Maybe some of you already know.
To those people, I can only say: I’m sorry.”
— Lauren Oliver (Before I Fall)
It is always hard to admit when we know that something or someone is not very good for us. Yet, we touch the fire, we hold the flame and we drink the poison and we refuse to read the signs. However, through heartbreak, shame, chaos and drama we find ourselves, or at least pieces of ourselves. A strength we never knew about, assertiveness we didn’t know we had, a soft point that we were never aware of. Life experience is a priceless procurement. Watching someone else make the same mistakes that you have made, is frustrating to say the least. As I have said many times: we cannot bump someone’s head for them. People need to learn on their own.
“I’m not in search of sanctity, sacredness, purity; these things are found after this life, not in this life; but in this life I search to be completely human: to feel, to give, to take, to laugh, to get lost, to be found, to dance, to love and to lust, to be so human.”
— C. JoyBell C.
My dad once told me that life is a lot like driving a car. When you are driving to a destination, there are signs placed along the road. You can choose to ignore the signs and get lost, or you can choose to read and follow them and arrive at your destination. I however feel that the two are not mutually exclusive. I believe that you do sometimes need to take different routes; you should get lost every once in a while. Sometimes it leads you to places you never thought you wanted to see. There is nothing wrong with following your instincts for a bit and ignoring the road signs. Just make sure you have a bit of extra petrol in your car.