I just had to send an embarrassing email. I’m speaking at a camp this weekend, and it is a return engagement for me—meaning I spoke at the very same camp (in the very SAME place!) last year.
I am also a man. Despite my wispy frame, this statement holds true. And with my burly—yes, burly—disposition comes an unrelenting hatred for seeking any sort of navigational help. I would drive around aimlessly, reassuring my wife that I know where we are, until the car sputtered to the side of the road, out of gas. Then, I’d just stagger around the earth aimlessly reassuring her that I know where a gas station is—I saw it on one of our u-turns, I’d say. And, to be perfectly honest, we could die out there in the vast, empty wilderness. And I’d let us, too, if it kept me from asking for directions. I’d rather die proud than live humbled alongside her I-Told-You-So-look.
But back to the camp. Last year, I drove to Springfield, Illinois and met part of the group that would be going to the camp. I jumped on their bus, sat in the back, and zoned out most of the trip. I knew this and this alone—where we went was cold. It was below zero and snowy, so my guess—educated as always—was that we had not gone south; no, this was no Mexican vacation, that much I knew.
But that is about it. Wyoming? Could be. Canada? Seems plausible. Michigan? Why not?
But yesterday my wife reminded me that I am going on a trip and she is not, and as her burly—yes, again, burly—protector, it would be caring to at least let her know where I would be in case she were to need me and my phone was out of battery power (like that ever happens!). Also, it would be helpful should she see something on the news about blizzards or mastodon attacks to know if I was in the affected area.
“North,” was not a specific enough answer to appease my bride (Diva, much?), which led me to my embarrassing email.
The email went to the guy who booked me. He is a wise, learned sort—not sure why he chose me the first time much less again, but life is full of its mysteries. To this intelligent man, my boss for the weekend, I cringed as I typed the following:
Hey, can you let me know where exactly it is we are going? Like what is the camp called, and, you know, what State/Country is it in?
This goes beyond just asking for directions. And I hate it. I hate it because it shows dependency on someone else. It shows basic stupidity, sure, but that I can cope with, as I have been doing so my entire life. It is more the dependency, the sheer vulnerability that irks me. But even more than just relying on someone, I hate not knowing, well, everything.
And this isn’t just in terms of directions, either. In life, I often have a pretty glaring problem with this. I want to know the plan, the details, the future, and it drives me mad to relinquish control and just admit that I don’t know.
So I don’t. I don’t admit that there is much I don’t know. I don’t acknowledge the unknown and just try to appear calm and cool as I drive around, neglecting the needle inching toward “E”, and the fact that I don’t know where I will be in five years. I don’t know how I’m going to raise a family. I don’t know if I’m going to be at peace or feel fulfilled. I don’t know when I am going to retire or how. I don’t know how many kids I’ll have. Or if I’ll have any? I don’t know if they will be healthy. I don’t know if I’ll get fired down the road. I don’t know when I’ll move or what house to buy. I don’t know when I’m going to find time to clean my car or look for a new one. I don’t know if I am really making a difference or ever really will. I don’t know when I’ll die . . .
The car of my life rumbles along with the fuel light on, but I just externally ignore it while freaking out internally. Everything’s fine, Everything’s fine, Everything’s fine . . . I repeat the old mantra quietly at first, without realizing the yell that it has become.
And maybe, just maybe, it is time I humble myself and send the email, no matter how embarrassed it makes me. I cry out that I don’t know. Oh man, it sort of feels good. I say it quietly but before long, knowingly, I shout it out proudly. I DON’T KNOW! I’m vulnerable. I’m desperate. I’m confused. I DON’T HAVE IT ALL FIGURED OUT!
It is embarrassing at first, but then, it becomes freedom in its very self.
Wisconsin. That is where I am going! The answer just came via his reply. It came because I asked for it, because I admitted I didn’t know it . . .
Now for all the rest . . .
I may not find all the answers I’m looking for, but I won’t be living a lie. I’ll look my wife in the eye and say, “I’m lost.” She’ll be lost too, and knowing we can admit that will keep us driving onward into the night, slowly finding our way.