The Art of Getting Lost

I have an abysmal sense of direction. Because of this, I often leave an additional 15-30 minutes to get to a new place. It is a sad, ridiculous (and now funny) truth that one time I went to go pick up a friend who lived in the Near North side of Chicago and ended up in Wisconsin. Yes, this is a great and mysterious talent. I figure that my inner compass must have wanted a yummy cheese snack.

I mention this because, if I’m being logical, I shouldn’t get lost. I can read road signs, tell that cars are – or are not – turning, see for myself that if I’m heading toward a business area and I’m looking at houses that I’ve probably turned the wrong direction somewhere along the way.

As a metaphor, though, the idea has some appeal. A person can have all the tools they need to get to some Where of their lives and take a detour. Or get rerouted. Or even get lost. That’s not always a recipe for disaster; in fact, it’s probably how we all end up where we do: some combination of circumstance, focus (or lack thereof), desire to keep going or the appeal of stopping and resting for a while.

However we arrive at the places we are, we blend what we thought we knew we were doing with what actually happened. Sometimes that’s easy to reconcile, sometimes not. Sometimes the act of getting lost is nothing more than shedding some preconceived notion of what would/could/should happen with what actually does. If we don’t like how things have turned out, we can change directions. Some people’s paths are a straight line, some people’s curve a bit; mine has been a meandering river floating above a rocky undertow.

Ultimately, I don’t worry so much about getting lost any more. Because of that, I find I don’t get lost as often. Isn’t it interesting that, even in getting from A to B, worry has more of an impact than simply understanding that eventually I’ll find my way. Not a bad analogy for how to live.