“Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger”
David Wagoner, from Lost
I have a particular talent for getting lost; I do it better and faster than most people I know.
This wasn’t something I cultivated. This brain of mine, which does a number of things fabulously, does not hold more than 3 turns at a time, and it is likely to remember at least one of those wrong at least half the time.
So recently, in Vermont, when given the task of wandering in the woods for half an hour or so, I dutifully picked a familiar direction. I took only 2 turns, and I was careful to note them exactly in the map my mind was making of where I had been. I was so cautious. And somehow I got lost anyway. Even later, walking in that same stretch of woods, I was unable to figure out where my wrong turn had been. It seemed, on turning around, that there were choices I didn’t remember making, forks in the road I had not seen as forks at the time. My mind tried to make something of that, to ask itself what other choices it might have made without even realizing there was a choice. But ultimately, the question came to nothing.
I found my way back. I wasn’t all that lost to begin with. I had picked the right direction, just the wrong trail, so once I got within a reasonable distance, a friend saw me, called out my name, and guided me back to the group.
Despite my best efforts to know where I am at all times, and where I’m going, I have come to believe that I will just get lost from time to time. It seems to be part of how I operate in the world. That’s not easy for a woman who is used to doing most things well and efficiently right from the beginning. I do have a sense of direction; I do find my way back. But it may take me longer than most people, and it may make for some embarrassing moments when it becomes apparent to people that I’m not actually as together all the time as I might like them to think. All in all, though, the moment of being found almost makes up for it. Thank God for the friends and family who somehow manage to meet me halfway down the trail, time and time again, to help guide me back.