The Right Direction


I’m really not that good at following directions.

It usually goes like this…

……I’m given instructions to whatever it is and I start off doing just wonderful.  I will follow instructions well if it’s a superduper {is that a word?} important matter, like car seat installation, medicine doses, or crossing in the crosswalk when the little guy is green.  Superduper important.

But then I have this problem.  I like to…aahhhh….take things and make them my own. {Is that too American Idol? AI fans know exactly what I’m talking about.} I almost always go in head first with great plans of duplication. I WANT  to do it “right”. But ummmm….well…..Honestly, I’m torn. Sometimes somebody else’s “right” is not exactly what I want.  At first I believe it is though. But I’m beginning to see a pattern in myself.  I tend to stray off the path a bit after a while.

So I used to be really into this little thing called scrapbooking. Know this; in the scrapbooking culture copying is a regular occurrence. Even if someone is a pro at the pastime they are usually guilty of replication.  I’ve tried it…and I have to confess I don’t believe I ever copied something 100%.  Oh I tried. I saw plenty of ideas that I loved 100%. But as I worked on my project I just couldn’t do it.  I had to put my own spin on it.

Actually, when I’m not following directions, I’m usually unaware of it at the time.

Once,  I was heading to the coast and I guess I thought I knew where I was going.  I ended up on the wrong road.  After too many miles I finally figured it out.  I was in the middle of nowhere.  I’d never been to this place before.  I was in the middle of miles and miles of brilliant green rolling hills covered in wildflowers.  Hmmm….who needs directions, right? Wow.

You know, society dictates the direction we go more often than I’m comfortable with. Go with the flow. Follow the leader. Stay inside the lines. Do what is “right”…..

When it comes to fitting in, most people like to blend in with their community.  I don’t think we are even conscious of  it most of the time.  Humans crave inclusion and familiarity.  I mean just look at track homes {aka cookie cutter houses}, strip malls in any West Coast town, white cars, black velour sweat suits, tramp stamp or tribal tattoos, silhouette stickers of families on the back of mini vans, fans of professional sport teams, fraternities, sororities, churches… Ditto. Ditto. Ditto. I know I’m guilty of participation in a majority of these.  {All but four, actually.} Now, there is nothing wrong with any of them. Obviously they are working well or these things would not continue I suppose.

I also think it is human nature to not want to stick out like a sore thumb, to not not follow protocol. For example…you go to school wearing your fantastic Halloween costume only to find out nobody else is dressed up…or you go to a, what you thought would be casual, party and the ladies are in cocktail dresses and you’re in jeans. It’s just plain natural to think, or even actually say, “Oh shit…”.  Did I get the memo? Why am I not like everyone else?  I didn’t do it “right”!

In a recent heated discussion about dancing…yes I said dancing…yes, I said heated discussion….my verbal opponent stated that the reason people who say they hate dancing is because they worry about what others think.  Are they making fun of me because I don’t know the moves? Am I as coordinated as the guy next to me? Do I look like a fool.  I argued that maybe some people just don’t like to dance.  Maybe they hate sweating and moving around and its actually way more fun to sit along the wall and mock the fools on the dance floor…wait a minute…Hats off to you, my friend…point made…those who claim to dislike dancing probably do because of what others think…because often times they ARE the others.  {Good thing he had forgotten what I wrote about in an old blog entry, “Like No Ones Watching”.  If he had I would have been shut down at the very begining of that conversation! Please feel free to reference this entry…August 2011. }

Oppinion. The right direction. Peer pressure.  The “norm”.

Ever felt like you had to stay at that job because it is a “great opportunity” but you hate it? What about living in the “good” part of town because everyone, well, says it’s good?  What about politics {yikes}?  Do you really believe what you stand for? Do you sometimes turn off your brain and just follow because it seems easier? Who’s writing these directions anyways???

What it comes down to, I guess, is pleasing others around you.  Really, is it worth it to make everyone else happy at your own expense?  To be uncomfortable and discontented?  Things that work perfectly for so many may not work for a few.

{Warning: I’m about to use a reference that many of you will roll your eyes at.  I’m pretty  sure one of you will throw up a little in your mouth. Give me a break and please don’t start pissin’ and moanin’ about what I’m about to say….}

As the songwriter, John Mayer sings,  “Take your life…plot it out in black and white…so the good boys and girls take the so called right track…” Or how about this one? “Am I living it right?…So what, so I’ve got a smile one…but it’s hiding the quiet superstitions in my head…don’t believe me…don’t believe me when I say I’ve got it down…Am I living it right?”

Who says there is a “right” way to life anyways?

The other day I was all excited to actually go into the kitchen and…gulp…bake. Rare. But I have this white chocolate and apricot scone recipe that is pretty frickin’ good. I’d been talking it up to a friend for some time and was ready to impress.

Well hell….where’d I put that dang recipe???

I knew I had all of the ingredients.  They were right there waiting to be mixed together… but no measurements.

I.  Had. No. Directions.

How am I supposed to make them without the right directions???

Stranded in the middle of the kitchen. There I was, just staring down at what I had to work with…hmmm…I really wanted those scones.

The internet. Thats it! I will just look up a recipe that is similar to the one I had.

Ahh…easier said than done.  There had to be, at minimum, 506 choices. Not one recipe seemed right to me.  So I started mixing up my own concoction.  See??? Here I am in NEED of directions.  I find some and what do I do?

I take a chance.

I don’t follow them.

I discover a different way.

I follow my instincts.

And it’s ok to do that. You know why?

Those scones……the ones I rewrote the recipe to?  They were beyond fantastic.  Beat the original followed-for-years-and-years-recipe by a long shot. If I hadn’t misplaced the recipe I never would have designed the ones I baked that morning.

You know what?

Sometimes when you lose the directions that you are given you have to make up your own.

And sometimes it turns out better that way.


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