Back in the 60’s, Dion recorded a song called The Wanderer. It was pretty popular on the charts even though it was kind of dark for the times. In an age of fun frolics, soda shops, drive in movies and summer parties, this song centered around a fella and his multitude of love interests. To the outside world, he looked like he was having the time of his life. He was embracing fun, carefree relationships with no strings, traveling from one place to another and from one woman to another…loving them and leaving them. But in reality this guy was leaving behind a trail of wounded hearts and perhaps a few broken dreams. More importantly, he was carving away a piece of his own emotional well being and personal integrity as he moved onto his next destination. As the song went on, he found himself even more lonely and with nothing to “call his own”. His calloused heart was the most wounded of the bunch, and his own future dreams were destined to crash around him as he never got much of anywhere… just round, and round, and round…
In a way this song reminds me of the story in the Bible about the Israelites and their journey toward the Promised Land. Once they left captivity and began their travels to the place that was waiting for them, the land full of all good things, marvelous foods, beautiful settings, family and friends and prosperity, we find them straying off mentally and emotionally. They become bitter and complain about the trip, about the manna (do we have to eat THAT again?), they get fed up with each other, and frankly probably become a real pain in the neck to God. And in His wisdom, the Almighty allowed them to wander from one place to another, circling here, recognizing this place (weren’t we just here yesterday?), complaining bitterly, sitting down refusing to go on, hungry, hot and tired, attempting to find the Promised Land on their own. At times, He even quietly looked on as they made a real mess of things. What was to have been an eleven day journey to contentment, security and an unbelievable life turned into a 40 year stretch of futility and hardship. And some never made it out of the desert at all.
Isn’t it sad to think that these people had been given the Promised Land, a perfect place for them and they wasted so much time and effort because they were not choosing to go the path God had set out for them to begin with? They thought they had a better way. Kind of like some of my former employees…
When I owned a cleaning company, I had several techs working for me. They drove their own vehicles to the homes and businesses and the office staff made it ultra simple for them to do everything exactly right to have a totally successful cleaning for their customer. Worksheets containing all the preferences of the customers, along with explicit directions to the home, entry information and so forth. These were given to each tech and they could ask any questions before setting out. If they followed their directions exactly they would never fail to arrive at their destination, on time, with all the needed supplies, and complete a cleaning that often would gain them a hefty tip at the end.
In all the years of running that company, it never ceased to amaze me how the normally sensible, intelligent and savvy people who worked for me could excel at so many things at home, raising fine families and even excel in our own company, but they often were the same ones who could not or would not follow driving instructions to arrive at the home. They would get caught using their own GPS, or more often would “think” they knew how to get there. Then the office phone would ring, they would be lost and trying to describe where they were, and the office staff would be in a quandary trying to figure it out and get them back on the correct path. If they were too far off the correct directions, many was the time they were taken off that job and it was given to another tech to handle. The original techs ended up losing their paying job assignment for the day and were sent home…all because they didn’t follow directions for their journey.
And I can’t say anything better about myself either if I am totally honest. I would give on site bids when a potential client would call. I would get the client name, address, figure I knew what I was doing and where I was going and strike out without even running a map online. I had done this, or something similar before, I didn’t need instructions, right? So off I would go and as I was driving and listening to the radio, I might let my mind wander about the grand kids, or what I was going to fix for supper that night, or drift to how I was going to have to fire someone later that week and suddenly I would look around and not know where I was…I had made a wrong turn somewhere because I wasn’t paying attention. And now…I didn’t have a map to refer to either to find out where I was. So I would go in what I thought was the right direction, and get more and more lost. It would draw near the bid time and a call would have to be made to the potential client I was trying to impress and I’d have to tell them I had taken a wrong turn. Total embarrassment would set in having to admit I was lost. And even more gut wrenching to admit right here….I owned a GPS and would only bring it out as a last resort. How silly was this? I had directions that could have been made available, I even had a specific tool I could begin my journey with in confidence, but chose not to use either of them. I had overriding power available in the way of a Tom-Tom when I did find myself lost, but no…I just knew I would get there on my own recognizance and power. I knew the right way…but I found in most instances I was more of a wanderer than my own techs. Eventually, I would pull out the GPS, set it, and yes, get there within minutes. Almost without fail, I was within a few blocks of where I needed to be but was circling all around it and never arriving because I had lost sight of the path and was too proud to admit it.
When I take a look over my years, I can see such a parallel in myself and the stories of the Israelites and the wandering techs. I have to hang my head when I consider the years I wasted off my good path chasing poor choices, bad habits, and at times the wrong individuals or groups of people, or embracing emotionally debilitating situations. Trying to fill a personal void in my own psyche or heart, I would think I knew what was good for me. I would go after it, not seeing what was really happening. I was allowing myself to get dragged off my true road to happiness by something that was bound to end up draining and damaging me as a person. Living a life without good directions and the will to follow them is like trying to draw water from a well with holey bucket. You keep putting things in and they keep spilling out all over the place, and all you do is end up wet, soggy and probably standing knee deep in a mud hole. Many times you even wake yourself up for a while, you regroup and step away from the drama and chaos, but something like an old addiction, or someone you think can fill a void in your life comes along, and you fall back into poor choices and habits. You find yourself holding that same holey bucket again, drawing from the same well, losing precious water for your own soul. Your days and months and years become wasted time circling around the good things and people originally planned and intended for your own life….and you go round, and round, and round. The work of filling ourselves can easily stop if we would just take the time to turn back to the right path and keep our eyes glued forward. We’d find ourselves at the door to a Promised Land flowing with our own babbling brook that never runs dry. We’d never have to draw our own water and fill ourselves up ever again. Years of habits and unhealthy responses are challenging to overcome. I know…my name should be Ima Wanderer.
It takes a great deal of dedication and focus to break old habits, learn to be grateful and quit complaining about life, and harboring bad attitudes. It takes something called trust to stop living out our poor choices and making the same mistakes over and over again and just go with the path that is good and clean and true. It might even look boring to others, and it might even become monotonous at times to me. I have come to realize I am easily drawn to dramatic personalities, distant dreamers, and shockingly addicted to creative chaotics at times. There have been more than a few with “Rosie” tatooed on their chest, so to speak, in my life by my own choices. I’ve also had my share of filling those positions myself in my own life. But, challenging as it may be, simple and lasting path adjustment is not impossible. I plan to stay on my ultimate path, even if I detour here and there when I am weak. Good living, clean love, overpowering joy, unparalleled peace, and a bursting open happy and sound life? It’s bound to be mine because it’s on my bucket list, and this bucket ain’t got no hole anymore.