Sunday, April 10, 2016

Finding my True North

Many years ago when we lived in the Bay Area of California, we spent nearly every weekend sailing on San Francisco Bay.  In the beginning, I hated it.  Taking sailing lessons was incredibly HARD work because if you weren't doing it correctly, pulling the lines and adjusting the sails was difficult. 
We learned to sail in preparation for the then coming Y2K crisis.  Remember that?  We knew that if the world as we knew it went to hell-in-a-hand-basket that we would have enough skills and supplies to sail out the Delta, under the Golden Gate and off to paradise.  Needless to say, that never happened.  However, nearly $15k later and a gazillion hours on the bay, we were accomplished sailors.  Except for one thing.

Navigation.  Sure, its easy with a GPS.  But, what are out at sea and lighting takes out your electronics.  Your backup GPS got zapped, too.  So, one must know the old fashioned way of navigating the currents, waves and stars.  We took a navigation class at the local Sailing Club which had never failed us.  (Especially the time I ran one of the boats in to the Berkeley Reef and knocked a gash in the keel.  That is a story for another day.)

I failed the Navigation class with a miserable "F".  I just didn't get it.  Not the math, not the just took my breath away and for a while, combined with getting my hand caught in a traveler and sustaining an injury that hurts to this day, I almost quit sailing.

There was one concept of navigation that I did understand and that was the Concept of "True North". Find the following description from Webster's Online helpful:

"True north differs from magnetic north, which varies from place to place and over time due to local magnetic anomalies. A magnetic compass almost never shows true north. In fact over millions of years, magnetic north wanders considerable and occasionally reverses so that the magnetic north pole has been near the geographic south pole at some periods in the earth's history. In the arctic region, a magnetic compass is not very useful.
To find true north from a magnetic compass you have to know the local magnetic variation and how it is varying over time. For ordinary folk this is difficult (although good maps will have magnetic deviation marked on them).
Magnetic Deviation Scary variation

From Websters Online
Finding true north is essential for accurate navigation. Hence the metaphor.  In life's journey we are often uncertain where we stand, where we are going and what is the right path for us personally. Knowing our true north would enable us to follow the right path."

As a person, I always understood that my True North seemed to be my husband Gary.  He taught me so much about love, life, business and now in his Dementia, how to be a caregiver. 

I always relied on him.  If I was ever having a bad day, I would connect with him and he would put me right back on track, like a reliable compass. 

Now, I realize who I thought was my True North is no longer a viable tool.  Just like a GPS on a boat that has been disabled by lightning, Gary has been disabled by Dementia.  So, what is my back up compass?  Good question and I have an answer.

This morning while watching a televangelist (impossible to take Gary to church), I heard that our True North is really God.  Well, duh.  I can pretend all day that I didn't know that already but I'm not that talented an actress or writer.  God is in control of all this that we call life. My brain and anxiety relaxed ten fold. 

It is important to me that I remember this concept when the waves are crashing and we are headed upwind with a strong current in the fog.  Just turn on the back up GPS and set it to True North. 

Many might ask what this has to do with staying sane as a wife whose husband is experiencing the day to day Hell of dementia.  It has everything to do with it.  I hope that any reader of this blog never has to find out how it feels.  Meanwhile, tune into your True North and enjoy the sail.

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