Frames of reference

by: Steve Savides on

"When you're on a pioneering journey, you don't have a frame of reference…"

A good friend said this to me today, and it struck a deep chord. 

When you're doing what you have never done before it's going to feel uncomfortable, and it will feel strange, unusual, uncomfortable. But if you believe, then do it and it will work out.

I am writing this having just landed back in London from South Africa.  It has only been about 18 months since I last was there.  I would say "back home" but the truth is, England is my home just as much as Africa is.  I have long come to embrace this beautiful dichotomy within.  I digress. 

The trip was transformational for me.  No doubt, it will take me many months, even years to fully appreciate the impact of this trip - but then, I set it up to do just that.  To catalyse a deep, lasting change in me, that would lead me to a place of no turning back.

In my heart, I know that is what the trip has done.  I have been wrestling with my destiny for some time.  Not as much my destiny, but taking the next - and possibly one of the very biggest - steps in that destiny.  Leaving the safety of corporate world and running Lightning Fast full time.  I have built all the foundations I can.  I have laid out my path.  Set the course.  I have done all the preparation.  I could take another route to my goal.  A safer route.  I could stay here another ten years, comfortable.  Keep the house, hang on to my "stuff".  But in my heart, this is not what I want any longer.  Material possessions have become a trap for me.  My ego, which I always thought I had under control, is actually interfering with executing my vision. 

Most importantly, the truth is that any more "preparing" is just delaying.  The only way to build the dream I have, in the time I want to do it, is to quit my job, follow through on selling my house and take a leap of faith.  I have wrestled long and hard with this.  There have been lessons about life, and my character and what "catches" in me.  There is a joke about letting go.  From humble beginnings ("not bad for a shoe salesman" the old joke would go, although working in an Aldershot fast food chain, cooking, cleaning, serving, sweeping, and cleaning toilets, was still one of the most satisfying life lessons I have ever had)

The truth is, I have amazing people who are travelling with me.  I have had incredible people who have been part of the journey as I have taken little and big steps.   I think it is the same for all of us.  Some of those amazing people have encouraged me, some were terrible to me; probably no more terrible than I was to them. Some have been an example by staying, and some by going.  Like everything, the mirrors for us are everywhere, should we just want to look and see the truth.

 The trip was no different.  It was full of highs and lows. Spectacular sunrises and dark hours. I went to visit my fathers grave - the first time I have been back since we buried him, over twenty years ago.  Here was a man who taught me the generosity of an open heart.  A magnanimous, warm, funny and loving man.  Despite his own pains and losses; his own weakness and failures, he deeply embraced life and those that he loved.  So too, I know I I have learned to embrace all of these memories, and be thankful for each moment.  Simply because they are all part of the journey I am taking.  

But as I write this, I know the path is mine, and mine alone; regardless of who is with me, who is gone, what is behind and what is still to come.  The truth of the matter, is that no one can take the next step, except me.  

What does all of this have to do with frames of reference you may ask?

Not so fast.  (The personal journey never is, and that is the point).  I guess because the truth is, that it depends. 

Perhaps everything and nothing is the correct answer.   Frames of reference are exactly that.  Frames.  Frames that we look through.  They are ours and ours alone.  They are tainted by our own rose tinted (or otherwise) glasses.  And the references we have, are there with all the attachments we pick up in this earthly journey.  Every thought, attitude.  Every bit of understanding.  These all form our sphere of understanding.  If we are to move on to where we want to go, then we must let much of that go.  Yet at the same time, we need to embrace and hold on to what we know to be true. No one else can tell you what that is for you.  No one.  Despite what any dogma, teaching, culture or person will tell you, at the end of the day it is only you that can truly live your own truth. 

On the trip, I hiked in the Drakensburg.  Still, despite all of the places I have been to in the world, my favourite place to walk.   One particular hike served up so many lessons it would take twenty blog posts to cover all that day encompassed.  It was, it seems, the halfway point of almost every path in my entire life.  

Sure, you may be able to find more spectacular beauty and stunning sights (although you will be hard pressed!) but there is something of the sun-drenched essence of Africa that sits in those ancient rolling hills.   

The African sky is most known for being striking blue, huge and open, filled with the sun in all its glory.  It hovers above the rich earth as they dance a dance of love, every day, until they fold into night where the stars come out to play, and the moon can "do her thing". 

But the African sky holds so much more as it embraces the Earth beneath it.  It holds spectacular storms, lightning, hail, thunder.  It has soft soaking rain that the British isles, would find pleasing.  On the highveld you can find such chilled, foggy conditions that the most patriotic Scotsman would feel at home. 

South Africa has all the elements rolled into one, and this is what makes South Africa great.  It is the one country I have found, that seems to have the essence of almost every country on earth within relatively small geographic boundaries.  

On this hike, I was with a very good friend.  We didn't take a map.  We think we took a wrong turn and instead of arriving at the peak, we arrived at a point that may or may not have been on the path, and may or may not have been higher than the peak we were aiming at.  The weather was rolling in, and we were hungry and tired, and balancing the enjoyment of the moment, without wanting to push ourselves to any physical limits.  So in the end, all we could do was stop, and enjoy the moment.  Reflect on the walk in light of our own personal journey's and enjoy it.  That is exactly what we did.  

Coming down the mountain, there was that moment of exhilaration that makes any hike worthwhile…  That moment of clarity where everything made sense.  That crystal clear moment where you reflect on everything, have let everything you need to let go, go, and have embraced everything that you can possibly hold on to without weighing yourself down.  You are literally "in the moment" and it feels incredible.  

These moments are what you can use as a frame of reference for the next part of your journey. 

That hike was reflective of this trip.  This trip for me was a reflection of my entire life.

 Just as I embraced the land of my birth again, so I had to embrace the inward journey.  With it, I had to look at where I was going, and where I had come from.

I had to choose what I would use as a frame of reference for the next part of my journey

And that is what I intend to do

Onward, and upward


© Copyright Steve Savides