If we were compasses…

(18th century bearing compass found on the L’Astolabe wreck)

…then we’d each have our own true north.

I think we do.  There seems to be this innate thing inside of us, this inner directional guidance system, and it’s unique and different in every person.  For instance some people steer naturally by honor and duty while others follow the promptings of love and faith.

It can be anything really…adventure and learning, family and loyalty, community and service, productivity and building, laughter and insight…but whatever anyone’s particular north/south polarity happens to be, it acts like an invisible, magnetic field that eventually aligns them along it’s axis no matter which way they try to go.  We can sometimes veer off for a while but always return to it again.  We have to.  There doesn’t seem to be any way to escape it.

My cardinal axis is truth and expression, which I both hate and love.

Hate, because even after all these years I’m still afraid of it so I try to keep my mouth shut for as long as I can, but of course that only ever makes things worse.  Sooner or later, when I wind up saying something anyway…as I always do because that’s what a cardinal direction does…there’s usually so much pressure built up behind it that the words spray out of my mouth like shrapnel.

And then moments latergazing at the carnage in surprise…I wish that I could just cut out my tongue, impale it with nails on a heavy, rough hewn, splintery  cross, and then drag the whole thing on my back up a shard-sharp, glass-jaggedy mountain in my bare feet where I’d lie down at the top on my face and be crushed under the load into dust and nothingness like I deserve.

That’s how awful it is to see that…that thing in their eyes.  That hurt or anger or reproach.  That mirror.

But then I love my true north, too, because…well, it’s truth.  Truth is purifying for me.  Truth is good.  Truth cuts through all the bullshit and spin and rationalization and denial…especially my own where it tends to grow thickest…and helps me feel slowly sane again.

That’s actually how I can tell whether something’s really true.  Not because it’s wise or painful or logical or inspiring or trustworthy…although truth can be all those things, too.

But because when something is true for me, it makes all the noise and screaming and confusion inside finally stop so I can be still again.  Whole.

I imagine everyone’s magnetic north is like that to some degree–something they both struggle with and rely on, something that makes them more vulnerable and more rooted at the same time.  The trick is probably to not resist it but embrace it…to just go ahead and be the compass I was born to be…just maybe strive for a little more skill and elegance with it day by day.

And a little less velocity.

Anyone else know their true north?

copyright Dia Osborn 2012

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5 responses

    • I lost one almost-finished post recently then almost lost this one, too. And somehow I still forget to hit SAVE every paragraph or two. Lab rats learn faster for godsakes.

  1. This resonated Dia. It’s what I like about your writing. You cut through the psycho babble and say authentically what is true for you. It comes through and I often connect with your writing as a result – whether it’s your annual Yule greeting or your blog posts.

    Loved the shrapnel comment! You’re not alone in that one, although I’ve gotten much better at facing the apology head on and going back and saying what I ought to have said the first time and this tends to divert any need to self flog.

    I like the thought of us each having our own True North; I’m not a cookie cutter type. Imagine no mold to fit into, no instruction manual, just follow your heart, or your True North. Brilliant.

    Laur’

    • Owning up and apologizing when necessary…before things start festering…really is the trick, isn’t it?

      And…self flog? That’s it I suppose. I wonder if I was a monk wearing horse hair shirts in a past life? Some habits are just hard to break. 🙂

  2. I so understand the attempt to bottle true north only to have it spray forth in the form of shrapnel. That is why I prefer to approach many topics through writing. I love FB, email, and even prefer texting above the telephone. I hear people complain that we are losing our social skills to this constant barrage of electronic communication. But for me this is a much safer and more effective way of exploring ideas and listening to others who may not share my opinions. It beats the shrapnel purge any day.

    My true north? It must be truth and honesty. What else is there that is important?

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