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Wandering in the wilderness

More than a year ago now, I was hiking in the beautiful island of Corsica with some friends. And while we were at it, we came across a tiny pathway leading into a forest of trees. We could have ignored it and continued down the path that we knew would lead us back into the town, or we could take the tiny path into the forest and see where it would take us.

As you might have already guessed, we took the path into the forest.

More than an hour in, we were well and truly lost. We had no idea where we were or where the direction we were walking in would take us. We weren't even sure if it would take us anywhere at all. We all had phones, so we turned on Google Maps to see if we could find our way into town, and deep in the forest, none of us had any reception and it was of no help whatsoever.

While we don't often find ourselves lost and wandering in the wilderness on a Mediterranean island, we often do find ourselves lost and wandering in our own thoughts. We can go days on end mulling things over, wondering what might be and what we ought to do and how we can get ourselves out of the situation we are in.

We could have panicked in the wilderness and started running as fast as we could, hoping that we would eventually be out of the wilderness and back into the town. But the island is pretty big and takes over two weeks to go from one end to another on foot. So, we were bound to be exhausted if we did make that attempt. In fact, one of us did do this and she ended up tired and even more frightened.

It is easy to let emotions take over - it could be panic, or despair, or sadness, or dejection or anything else. But if we do that, we will soon be exhausted and are unlikely to find a way out of the wilderness. We will only make it harder for ourselves to get out from that point on.

Another option could have been to retrace our steps and hope to find our way back to where we first entered the wilderness. But, we weren't entirely sure where we were and if we would be able to successfully find our way back to where we started. So, we ruled it out.

When we find ourselves in a hard place, it could be tempting to go back to the way things were - like breaking up with someone we are with or quitting the job that we're in or giving up on the dream that we have. It is sometimes a wise choice, but it may not even be an option in many cases when we just don't know how to guide ourselves back to that point.

What we eventually did was to keep going, taking stock of what we had left in terms of food and water and constantly checking our phones to see if we gained reception and could call someone or at least look at the map. And an hour or so later, we came to a clearing from where we could see a couple of houses. From then on, it was clear what direction we had to walk in until we reached that house, where we could get further help.

When it feels like there is nothing we can do about the situation we are in, sometimes the best thing to do is to keep going and to take stock of what we have left and how long we can survive on that, all the while checking for improvements in any of the areas where it previously seemed like there was none. This detachment lets us keep our eyes and ears open for possible help and solutions that might come our way, ones which we may fail to notice if we have given in to our emotions.

Finally, we reached one of the houses and had reception back on our phones and found our way back home.

If it works out, we live to tell the survival story. And if it doesn't, we make the best of the situation we're in and not wallow in self-pity.

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