Gazing Southward

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

-by Matt Leedham

A couple of years ago, I remember gazing southward to the horizon.  All I could see was the ocean meeting the sky, a thin line denoting the border between the two.  Ninety miles away was the island nation of Cuba.  As I stood there in Key West, I was fascinated that all that separated us was water. 

Today, I had the same fascination.  Again, I stood looking southward, barely able to tell the ocean from the sky.  This time, the next landmass emerged from the sea over 2,000 miles south in the Philippines.  I was at the southernmost point on the Southern most island in South Korea.

I treasure these moments because they center me, giving me a calibrating point from which to understand my exact position in the world.  Somehow it gives me a better sense of where I am, where I’ve come from, and where I’m going.  I find great peace in these places.

You may not share my excitement for such moments.  That’s okay.  I’ve recently learned that I’m part of a unique, underground band of nerds called “mapheads.” 

Before I left for this amazing journey in Korea, Jaime gave me a book written by the one and only Ken Jennings.  You may recognize his name because of his unprecedented run on the TV gameshow Jeopardy!  He holds the record for winning 74 games in a row and also holds the record for the most earnings in gameshow history.  

His new book, appropriately named, “Mapheads,” reveals the closet nerdery of people like me.  I wish I could explain why I love maps so much, or why I can read and interpret them so well, but I can’t.  If you’re like me, you’ll understand.

My interest in maps means that GPS devices also grab my attention.  The one we’re using here in Korea is the best I’ve ever seen.  It will tell you what lane to drive in, warn you of speed bumps, and calculate distance-metered tolls.  It’s really amazing.

The unfortunate result of the increased use of GPS devices is that people rely less on their own abilities to read a map and calculate their own directions.  I hope it doesn’t squash any young, budding mapheads out there.

But there is a lesson to be learned from a GPS device.  It relentlessly recalculates the route any time you get off course.  Even though there is a kind, female voice coming from the box, there is no emotion behind the need to recalculate.  There is no frustration in the device when you take a wrong turn.  There is no getting upset or feeling down if an error is made.  The device simply calculates where it is currently and immediately produces a solution to get to the desired destination.

What do you do to calibrate…to get your bearing?  As our lives are filled with unending tasks and goals, do you stop and take a moment to come back to center? 

I’m guilty of it too.  In fact, before I left for Korea I had been pushing myself way too hard without finding center.  What works for me is water.  I gain great peace and clarity when near water, such as in the example above.  But rivers and lakes work too.  What’s your thing?  

And once you’ve calibrated your position, you may need to recalculate your route.  This is a beautiful thing because it means your are moving and making progress.

I meet so many good, talented people that are afraid to pull the trigger on a project or dream or career.  They have many fears around failing, or their self image or self worth.  This is completely normal to feel this way.

The key is to move.  A GPS device won’t recalculate if you are parked.  Start moving, slowly if you need to, and you will quickly learn what adjustments to make to reach your desired destination.

I’m signing off from Korea.  Next time you hear from me (on the 25th), I will have just gotten back to the States.  This has been an incredible adventure for which I will forever be grateful.  I hope you enjoyed reading about my experiences as much as I have enjoyed writing about them.  I’m sure there will be more to share as the weeks and months move forward and I process all that I have done and learned.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *