Orienteering in the morning

Orienteering is the outdoor map-following thing. You have a map in your hand, and you have a compass, and you go - you look or follow or seek - you might find (at least, you might find your way home). There's a whole U.S. Orienteering Foundation with teams, and events, and all kinds of stuff (who knew?), and there are lots of families who think a good time is had by all when they're all outdoors with maps and compasses. Orienteering is one thing I would put into our days if I had homeschooling to do over again. At the time, I didn't feel like I could find my own way down the hill and back with 100% accuracy, but I made the classic mistake of the homeschooling mom. I thought I had to be the expert before I could do something with my kids. (forehead slap goes here - and I wonder why I had to learn this basic truth of homeschooling over and over again. Somehow, I could never remember from one subject to the next that we learn with our kids more than we ever learned prior to them.)

Anyway, as I sit here on my first quiet and alone morning this month so far, listening to NPR, looking at the blogs my Bloglines web crawler found for me today, sipping my coffee and consuming my yogurt (aaaahhh....), I think about the fact that this is how my husband starts his days too. We have coffee and the news. The news and the croissants on Saturdays. The news and the coffee, the coffee and the news. I think we're getting oriented for the day. Starting the day without this period of calm re-orientation feels like being thrust into a course without a map. The compass part of it is the Morning Prayer Office - but the map for this world is in the news of the day somehow. Or, it is if we're home and not on vacation, anyway.I think I started this habit for myself on the pivotal, now ubiquitously mythical, and rude awakening that oriented the whole country on September 11 a few years back. Our country's map before that was rather frayed and fuzzed at the edges, with whole chunks coffee stained or missing altogether. We were living in Pleasantville where the end of Main Street was just the beginning again. Oddballs like military people or members of the Peace Corps had been bringing home stories from off the edges of the map, but nobody had to listen to them - before the towers fell, we didn't have to listen.

But I don't listen to Morning Edition because I think there might be a disaster somewhere and I want to know about it. I'm not getting forewarned in order to be forearmed. Most stuff in life doesn't work like that anyway - a person can only "be prepared" for a limited number of things.

No, I listen in exactly the same way as I would take out a map before starting the car. I still do that. The availability of cell phones for getting other people to tell me where to turn, on-board navigation systems to read maps for me, and dumb luck notwithstanding, I still look at a map before I put the key in the ignition. I want to get oriented. Main Street does not end at the beginning, Madoff's auditor shoulda picked up the phone and at least asked a question or two, and I have serious doubts about the wonders of wine grown in Missouri. I just do. (New word for today: enologist)

And now I can work on some school stuff. I'm awake.

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