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The Map is Not the Territory

Remember the National Geographic Road Atlases we used to keep in the pocket behind the driver's seat?  

My husband had one for every region of the United States.

He began collecting them when he took a semester off from college to travel across the country. 

And we relied on those Atlases when we took our first trip out west when I as twenty-one. 

I remember being on an empty highway in Utah or Arizona - between canyon hikes and camp sites. 

I was in charge of directions at that point in the route -- and I missed a left turn on the map.

My husband was annoyed with me.

I remember feeling some shame.

Shame that I couldn't tell north from south or east from west on the map at that particular moment. 

Shame that I didn't just say that I was lost or that I wasn't sure what our next turn was.

Shame that I felt so stupid.

It was such a small moment.

But I still remember it today. 

And not because of anything my husband said that was so egregious as to leave a mark, and not because it added another few minutes to our trip. 

I remember it because of how I felt on the inside.

Anyone who has ever taken a family road trip knows that the map is not the only territory you travel.

There is another territory being traversed underneath the highways we drive upon every day.

And that is the territory of our inner life. 

That inner territory will encounter minor delays, detours and u-turns and sometimes a flat-tire or a full-on car-wreck that backs up traffic for days.

As you travel about this summer, be mindful of the inner territory that is your path.  

New experiences with family or friends are often wonderful adventures, and because they introduce new circumstances they can also trigger old fears and anxieties. 

Just observe the territory. 

There is no map to follow.  Just take one stretch of road at a time.

You'll know when you need to switch gears, take a pit stop or slow down and roll open the widows.

It's your ride after all.

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