The North Star has meant many things to many people over the years. Most often, it has meant guidance, a beacon, something to count on, something that can lead, that can be trusted. It’s something that helps us get our bearings, that tells us where we are and shows us where we’re heading.

In life, as in navigation, we sometimes need to pause to get our bearings, to figure out which way we’re heading, to look for our North Star. Maybe this blog post can be that sort of pause. I had another post planned, all set to post itself at five minutes after midnight — but it wasn’t quite what I wanted to say today. I’ll save it for another day.

After I fell a few weeks ago, I found that for a while I felt bereft of ideas or inspiration for writing. I didn’t get much done. It’s no use berating ourselves at such times — sometimes our minds just need to rest for a time. But we can’t rest, we can’t drift, forever. There comes a time when we have to look for our North Star again. We have to find our direction. I’m grateful that after that period of drifting, the ideas are coming back. Writing that had been off course has found its way again.

There’s a lovely book by Peter H. Reynolds that is a good one to read at times when one is needing to change direction, or just get back on course. Read on to learn what it is…

The North Star by Peter H. Reynolds. “Ask yourself where it is you want to go…”

This simply-worded but profound allegory/fable tells of a boy on a journey — a journey for which he does not know the destination. At first he is hurried along by others, he is buffeted by circumstance, he feels in the dark many times. Gradually he grows to understand that we all have different journeys, and he begins to find his own path, to follow his own dreams, to follow his own North Star.

The moment of truth for the boy comes when, as he is explaining to a bird how he has tried to follow the path others have taken, the bird asks him, “But where do you want to be going?”

That is the key question of the book, and the key question for our lives. Sometimes we get distracted from following our own path, from following our dreams. Sometimes others hurry us along, or think we should follow a path that has worked for them but which may not work for us. Sometimes we get lost and discouraged along the way, or it just seems too hard to get where we are going.

That’s when we need to look for our own guideposts, our own signs that we are heading in the right direction. For me, one guidepost was the sudden “aha!” of knowing how to revise a picture book manuscript that had been puzzling me for weeks. Another guidepost is renewed determination to keep myself moving forward on the path toward publication. The guideposts will continue to appear, my own North Star will continue to lead, when I ask myself truly where it is I want to go, and do what it takes to get me there.

“Where do you want to be going?”

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