When I lived in the Los Angeles area, I covered high school and junior college football for a couple of local newspapers. From a professional standpoint, these assignments are some of the highlights of my journalistic career. Not only did I enjoy writing game summaries and keeping statistics, but I actually got paid to watch football—which was something I’d been doing for free for most of my life!
My game assignments took me all over southern California, which made using a map (these were pre-GPS times, folks) necessary if I was going to find my way to the right location. Most of the time, the map helped me get to where I was going without difficulty, but sometimes I got lost.
One such assignment took me to Pasadena for a night game not far from the famed Rose Bowl. I’d studied my map beforehand and felt confident I knew where I was going. As I got closer, I took a wrong turn and soon realized I was headed the wrong way.
Panic kicked in as kickoff time loomed closer and I had no clue where I was going. Frustrated and stressed with the situation, I slowed down for a second and noticed the glow of the stadium lights above the tree lines. I then shifted my focus to the stadium’s light to get back on track. With each corner turned toward the light, I eventually got to where I needed to be in time for the opening kickoff.
I’ve often reflected on this experience and have remembered the lesson it taught me. You see, we all come with a light within us that keeps our moral compass pointed in the right direction, even when we’ve taken a wrong turn or are faced with a difficult choice.
This light—which goes by several names, including our better self and conscience—is within each of us. We’re born with it and as we learn to recognize, use, and follow it, we’ll get off track less often and will handle life and its many challenges better. When we don’t tap into and use this light, it’s easy to lose our way and get derailed. Believe me, I’ve jumped the tracks often.
When you’ve taken a wrong turn by reacting harshly, unkindly, or angrily toward someone, take a moment and let the light recalibrate your compass. Or when you lose your way because of a poor choice or something that’s outside of your control slams into you, dig deep, grab hold of the light, and keep moving forward with hope for a brighter day. You’ll never regret letting the light that’s inside you be your guide.