I was in a training the other day and one of the leaders brought up the concept of “Staying Found.” That simple, two-word phrase struck me in the heart. Apparently, it is common wisdom in wilderness and hiking circles.
It occurred to me that “Staying Found” is a wonderful metaphor for staying healthy in relationship and recovery. The American Hiking Society offers five common-sense points for staying found while walking in the wilderness. With gratitude to my trainer and the AHS, I offer my own thoughts on these principles and how they apply to staying found in relationships and recovery.
1. Have a map and compass. Maps are drawn by people who (a) have been there before and (b) have an overview of how where you are relates to where you’ve been and where you’re trying to go. Relationships are journeys and, while each relationship is unique in its own way, all relationships are alike in other ways. Gaining wisdom from other people’s journeys can be of infinite help if we start to get lost. Only a fool has to learn from experience when he or she can learn from the experience of others. And, of course, a compass—some form of objective orientation to your “true north” (your core values) is helpful in relationships as well as hiking. We all need some objective guides, not just our own momentary feelings or hunches about which direction takes us home. We need people in our lives who can speak real, objective Truth and set us on the right path.
2. Know how to use the map and compass. Learn how to use these tools before you need them. Know how to change a tire before you need to change a tire. Know how to get reoriented before you get disoriented. This is common sense. Thus, anticipate that even the best relationships will have its tough spots, every recovery will have some SLIPs (Short Lapses in Progress). Anticipate these and know how to use your relational and recovery tools to get yourself out of trouble.
3. Pay attention to your surroundings. Notice things along the way. Adopt an attitude of curiosity about your journey. Be open to new insights, experiences, and opportunities. While you enjoy the scenery, make mental and/or emotional connections between what may, at first, seem like random events or people.
4. If you do get lost, don’t panic. Maybe that should be “When you get lost . . .” because anyone who goes on a real adventure will surely get somewhat lost at some point. It’s part of living on the edge of adventure. Relationships get disconnected, people their way. It happens. Stay calm and use your thinking brain to calm yourself down and come up with a plan.
5. Make it easy to be found. You may feel alone . . . you may actually be alone temporarily . . . but people are looking for you. People who care about you are reaching out. Make it easy for them to find you, reconnect, and to get you home, safe and sound. Don’t hide, show up.