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The Importance of Maps…

A couple of weeks ago as we headed to UCLA for an evening panel, I was lost in my thoughts watching the cars on I-405 creep by ever so slowly.  I was only half-listening to a conversation my travel buddies were having about interstate highways that traversed the country.  Two things dawned on me as I did my half-listening.  First, my travel buddies had a very healthy dose of interest and excitement about the topic and I did not because I have no sense of direction.  I am not good with road maps so 1) never assign me the task of being in charge of reading them when on a road trip and 2) never ask me to partner with you in an orienteering competition. Second, I realized then that while road maps are no doubt fascinating and critical to getting from point A to point B or to points anywhere else, there is also another kind of map that is equally important…your life map.  What is it that you want to do with your life?  What is the direction your life is taking?  Where are you going?  Are you on your way to a meaningful life and, if so, how are you getting there?  The turn on the map I’m concerned about at the moment is the path to law school.  Is your true north pointing to law school?  If so, have you planned out your route?  Get a pencil and a piece of paper and start jotting down some notes or flip open that laptop and start tapping away.  Are you ready to tackle law school now or is there something (or a few things) you’d like to do first?  Remember this – one rarely, if ever, regrets taking time off before heading to law school.  If thinking about other things to do is an apt description of where you are now, then your route will veer a bit before getting back on the JD road.  This is absolutely okay.  How many times have you gone on a road trip and decided to take a side trip along the way and do some exploring? How else would you have come across that little café or that fruit stand that had the coldest drinks in the heat of the summer?  How else would you have discovered that hike which led to a glorious view of a valley usually only seen by those brave (or foolish) enough to ignore the private property signs?   Or come across those wild orchids in a field yet to be trampled by anyone?  I know these examples may seem small in comparison to opportunities you’re facing or options you’re thinking of, but I bring them up only to illustrate the point that side trips can lead to wonderful discoveries. For sure, there are definitely some side trips that you could have done without, but you learn from those as well AND you can always tell a good story about it so don’t consider those wasted opportunities.  You get the picture, right?  Detours, side trips, veering off – these are not bad things.  Use them to create a fuller and richer life map.  Don’t worry so much about always staying on the path that you’ve mapped out.  Allow for spur-of-the-moment left-turns and allow for detours that may take a bit longer than a quick stop.  The nice thing about maps is that you can always find your way back.

When drawing up your map, it is important to keep yourself honest.  If you’ve taken a right turn and you realize you should have taken a left turn instead, mark that down.  That right-turn journey has told you a lot so you want to make sure it gets a place on your map.  When looking back on this map of yours whether in a year from now or twenty years from now, you’ll really want to see all the twists and turns that got you to where you are.  Leaving out that right turn doesn’t reveal your entire route – thereby disqualifying your map as being true to you – and you will have forgotten what you learned by taking that turn.  The absolute best thing about creating this life map and keeping it always with you is that it you have in your possession a most valuable treasure map and you will find your treasure – along the way and at the end.

Last year I ended my first blog post of the season with a link to a song.  Let me do the same this year and leave you with something to get you into the mood for heading to California – if you’re not already living in this great state of ours.  It’s an oldie, but goodie.  I dare you to listen to this and not twist or shimmy along. The song sounds a bit scratchy – just like listening to an actual 45-rpm vinyl record.  The Rivieras singing California Sun way back in 1964…

5 Responses to “The Importance of Maps…”

  1. Ralph says:

    As a 1969 SLS grad and 44 year lawyer, I can add that in those days we were more controlled by “gps” than maps. It was rare for anyone to take a year off before law school, other than for something mandatory like the military. There were few “side trips” to one’s chosen path. That is one thing that, I think, has changed for the better. I agree with the sentiments here, although one must also bear in mind that life is often management of “Plan B.” Detours are not always voluntary!

  2. I loved reading your post as it sounds just like me! I’m actually quite renowned amongst friends for being absolutely terrible at map reading and following directions in general but when it comes to my life map, that’s all mapped out and followed religiously! I strongly feel that without this it is easy to drift in life so i’m pleased you’re also taking this seriously and wish you the best of luck. x

  3. I loved reading your post as it sounds just like me! I’m actually quite renowned amongst friends for being absolutely terrible at map reading and following directions in general but when it comes to my life map, that’s all mapped out and followed religiously!

  4. Dustin says:

    Nice post! It made me think of an analogy of having a road-map for life – for law school, for the bar exam, and for life! Although, there will be hiccups along the journey, the more you can roadmap and goal set for what you want to occur, knowing WHY you want it to occur, the better off you will be!

    Nice work!

  5. Great post. Completely agree about the life map. Sometimes life happens and the map goes out the window but it’s always essential to have something that guides you.

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