In hindsight I know I was very close to where I desperately wanted to be. By taking the bus into Seoul from the airport, I was being smart. Even with my overweight luggage in hand, I usually have the ability and awareness to navigate in a new city. My confidence evaporated quickly, as I turned my paper directions in every direction, desperately looked for more information with a free wifi signal. My desperation got to the point where I was trying to match Korean characters with my printout. Nothing was working. Options were quickly becoming ideas that were not working.
My energy level dropped with every step. As I pulled the weights in both hands over the curb, struggling to maintain my balance, it was as if I was a character in a short disaster film. I watched myself, unable to muster anything from within; “Quicksand under me, swamp water over me; I’m going down for the third time.” (Psalm 69.2) My body screamed that it was done with distress painted on my face, exhaustion dominating my stance, and my actions slowing to a crawl.
I wish I could tell you that I found something and that this became one of my finest hours. The good news is that I found my hotel. It was literally within 30 steps of where I was at one point in my wilderness. I can now see how the directions make sense. In the moment it was anything but pretty. Uninvited friends dominated my thinking – anger at being here, frustration at not knowing what to do differently, and uncertainty that things would change. In short, helpless and hopeless were the two overriding emotions.
In desperation I turned on the data feed to my iPhone map. The natural resistance to spending money in this space took second place to the need for directions. One hundred and twenty steps later, going the longest way that one could go from A to B, I could see the hotel. As I reviewed my learning opportunities, I dreamed of mustering the courage to use them.