Guiding lights: orientation and navigation
Asking ‘what is my purpose?’ when thinking about the life ahead of us, feels like asking ‘what is my destination?’, or ‘what is my route?’ when setting out on a journey. Though these questions may seem simple and sensible, they’re also pretty big. If we restrict ourselves to needing to know their answers before we leave, then we risk staying stuck at the start. It is difficult to be sure of destination or a route when faced with uncharted territory ahead. I wonder if a more useful question to ask in these circumstances could be ‘how will I navigate’?
The North Star is often used as a synonym for purpose. It’s interesting to consider this. Though the North Star is a point in the (Northern Hemisphere) sky that can be used for navigation at sea, it’s not a destination itself (at least, not for sailors). It is a guiding light, a fixed point which can be used for navigation and orientation. Even if we don’t know where we’re going, the North Star can help us understand where we are.
I remember also reading in Swallows and Amazons, how the Swallows were able to safely sail at night by setting up two ‘leading lights’ on their island. When these were aligned, they would know their harbour was straight ahead. I’m curious about this notion of alignment of guiding lights as an indicator that we’re heading in the right direction.
What are the guiding lights for a purpose journey? How can we differentiate them from other light sources?
I bought this book ages ago, for no other reason than I loved the title. Maybe now is the time to see what inspiration lies within.