The Journey and the Sherpa-like People Who Guide You

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At around 8-years-old I gave my dad a small wooden toy sailboat. On the side were the words, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” The Father’s Day gift symbolized (at least to me) why we moved to a different house or state every year for those eight years, and maybe why my father has never stopped moving.

Since my divorce in 2010, I’ve moved four times — twice in San Diego, then to Los Angeles, and in January to New York.

I’m ready to stop moving, but I’m not sure when that will happen.

If life is indeed a journey, then I’ve come to believe that along the way there are sherpa-like people who help you navigate your travels.

There are people in your life meant to deftly give the guidance and help you need to pass through each chapter.

In my case, my first guide, after my parents, was my first best friend Michelle. She was there with me as an awkward 12-year-old as I was living with my mother for the first time. She and her family welcomed me into their world and made me feel like I was a member of the tribe.

In college, my friend Brook, like the rock of Gibraltar that he is, never wavered. He directed me in plays, and then packed up a U-haul and brought us to Brooklyn, guiding me into work, and showing me how I could be financially independent.

There was my husband. In twenty years together, the longest segment on my journey outside of childhood, he taught me, among many things, tenacity in work, what it means to love as a parent, and the depth of what trust means in a relationship.

My sister guided me through my mother’s death, after losing her own mother twenty years before. Only recently she gave me a bunch of stickers to put around my house, on them are the words, “The journey is the destination.” She never knew about the gift to our father I’d given him as a kid.

My next segment would turn out to be one of my most challenging. Luckily, my beloved friends guided me after my divorce. They offered wisdom and patience and the hope that I would get back on my feet after a devastating blow and a kind of pain I didn’t know existed.

One guide walked me through the long period of self-doubt and insecurity. Coaching me on how to take my power back after I willingly gave it away to someone so horribly unworthy. He also taught me to keep laughing at myself.

One very cool guide offered endless hours of career advice, by phone, on a year-long segment of driving 80 miles to work round trip. This guide even offered something more. After the commute was long over, he showed me something I really needed to see… myself as a more fully-formed woman. He is forever my amuse-bouche.

At work, my editors daily guide me, teaching me how to be a better writer on my career journey. Holding my hand when I need it and pushing me forward alone to show me I’m ready.

Although I can call on one of the many savvy sherpas in my life anytime, I’m choosing to go this segment alone. Sometimes, it’s important to hone your skills of solo navigation. Maybe it’s time for me to guide a few others. I only hope I will be as helpful to them, as they’ve been to me.

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