On the first day in Tirana, Albania this week, I decided to walk back to my hotel for lunch. Partly because I wanted the exercise of a brisk walk through the city and also because I love the challenge of remembering a route.
I was staying in a new hotel for the first time and so was unfamiliar with the short drive to the office in the morning. I therefore paid much closer attention than normal in the back of the car, while we spent much of the time in the relentless, rush hour traffic of Tirana.
So, when it came to walking back to the hotel, I was up for the memory challenge!
It wasn’t that difficult to be honest. I had a pleasant lunch and then looked forward to the walk back – this time keeping a look out for the various landmarks I had taken even closer notice of an hour or so before.
What struck me about this exercise was that the landmarks – let’s call them ‘signs’ for the purpose of this blog – were not always obvious at the large junctions, where I had thought they might be. Or rather, I had tried to notice something at a certain junction but in fact, the ‘sign’ I did recognise came after I had made the decision to turn right for example, at a set of traffic lights.
The mural I had registered in my mind only appeared a bit further along the road – not at the corner.
If you’re anything like me, you want the signs to show up and point you in the right direction when you expect them or would like them to be there. You probably don’t know or can’t remember what that sign looks like but you hope to recognise it when you see it.
In life however, the signs usually show up when they need to be there – not necessarily when you expect or prefer them to be there.
Sometimes I find at least, you need to be prepared to go with your inner sense that “this feels right”. Soon after, you very often see that yes, it felt right for a reason. The sign you were hoping for does indeed show up – just not where you thought it would be.
With or without an active, daily faith, the reality is, we all have to live by faith one way or the other.
Faith in our subconscious memory, faith in our ability to find our way back, faith in that often dormant ability that enables us to be as good as we can be – if we learn to trust the signs.