In this crazy busy world in which we live, it is often difficult to find balance between work and play. It is increasingly challenging to keep one’s eye the prize and also enjoy the journey along the way. And the path for one is certainly not the direction for another, which creates yet another level of complexity as we seek peace and happiness.
You hear people talk about finding their “true north.” This means finding their focus, their inspiration, their purpose. Bill George, Senior Fellow, Harvard Business School, wrote in an August, 2015 blog on Huffington.com that “True North is your orienting point – your fixed point in a spinning world – that helps you stay on track as a leader. It is derived from your most deeply held beliefs, values, and the principles you lead by. It is your internal compass, unique to you, representing who you are at your deepest level.”
In early American history, heading west was full of opportunity and the hopes of prosperity. According to History.net, the Westward Movement is “the story of the United States has always been one of westward expansion, beginning along the East Coast and continuing, often by leaps and bounds, until it reached the Pacific—what Theodore Roosevelt described as ‘the great leap Westward.’”
Looking “back east” evokes thoughts of new beginnings – the sun rises from the east each morning, providing a chance for a fresh start full of opportunity and discovery. “Don’t you ever get the feeling that all your life is going by and you’re not taking advantage of it? ― Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises (did you think I’d actually write a post WITHOUT a quote from Papa?).
Sadly, when things are “going south” or “heading south” it often refers to negative outcomes or things going badly. The Oxford English Dictionary attributes this unsavory use of “south” coming from the stock markets. “South on a map is obviously down at the bottom, and when stocks go downwards, towards the ‘south’, they devaluate; hence the expression ‘go south’.” It has also been referred to as disappearing or dying, specifically in some Native American cultures.
Interestingly enough, on any given day, we are likely being pulled in any combination of these directions (sometimes at the exact same moment). The key, is to readjust and realign yourself so that you always feel centered and at balance.
For me, I find that balance as I travel the state of Michigan. In the matter of one day, I can be hiking a trail in search of wild elk and then enjoying a five-star dinner in one of our premier urban centers. I can drink coffee on my deck and watch a mother deer and her babies graze in the woods in the morning and then take a high-speed ferry to the Victorian-era Mackinac Island in the afternoon. I can paddle down a winding river in the heart of a national forest and then take in a professional sporting event that night.
When it comes to traveling Michigan, no matter which way you are going, you’re certain to find a destination or activity that will inspire you.
Your direction also varies depending on where you start. As I travel around the state, sometimes I am heading south from my home in Walloon Lake to cities like Grand Rapids, Detroit, Lansing or my hometown of Plainwell. But when I’m in those places, and ready to make my way back home, my path takes me north (or northwest). When I’m on assignment in the Les Cheneaux Islands, I’m trekking northeast over the Mackinac Bridge, yet when I’m headed to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, my route is southwest.
When I wake up and want to experience the beauty of the sunrise, I look to the east. Yet at the end of the day, when I want to witness the awe of a sunset, I’m facing west. And what about The Aurora Borealis – the glorious northern lights which paint the sky across a swath of directions.
Of course, there are also things to consider like looking up as the trees change their colors in the fall or as snowflakes cascade down in the winter. Or looking down, at the sparkling waters of our rivers, streams and lakes alive with trout and salmon.
And then, there are the aspects of inside and outside. External influences are found in our natural resources and in our urban centers. Made up of the sights, sounds, smells and feelings that make us feel alive and affect our internal beings…things that affect our hearts, our head and our emotions.
You see, there is value and inspiration no matter where you’re standing in the Great Lakes State, no matter which direction you are traveling or if you are simply viewing from a solitary place.
If you are truly living a well-balanced life, you envelop yourself with things found around you all directions! Left to right, up to down, inside to out (or visa-versa on all counts) and you’re celebrating each for their uniqueness. Even things deemed “bad” make you appreciate the “good” just a bit more when it comes to you!