Getting lost again…

Getting lost again... by Keri Kettle

The streets of the little French village we were staying in had been built in circles around an arena.  This meant a lot of tourists finding themselves missing the turn to the restaurant or the museum or that little store that had the cute thing in the window – now where did that go?  I could have sworn it was right around this last corner…

Curving narrow paths with few street signs and much similarly colored stone walls meant a lot of swear words were heard in those picturesque lanes.  “Dammit, Jane!  I told you this road lead to the river and not the central square!”  Husbands and wives, mothers and daughters, sisters – all annoyed and frustrated and that no one could figure out where they had come from or how to get to back to the ice cream place they saw this morning.

We were able to smile softly at each other as we passed the frazzle-eyed tourists with their torn maps. We were lucky that day.  For one, we had no place to be.  We had no schedule, no bus to get back to and no need to meet up with a tour group at a particular place and time.  Secondly, I had no responsibility for finding anything and had decided that the worst thing that could happen was that I would follow my husband’s handsome backside for an extra few blocks as he navigated our way through the ancient streets.  When we saw the ice cream, we had some – even if it was on our way to dinner.  If we wanted to stop for a glass of wine, we had time for that, too.  Having no agenda can do a lot to keep your stress levels down.

I get lost.  A lot.  Even in and around the small town I call home.  If I drive in to the big city nearby, it’s almost a sure thing that I will get lost at least once.  So I build in plenty of extra “getting lost” time – if we’re meeting, I’m probably going to be either really early or really late.  I’ve learned to embrace my lack of a sense of direction.

The gift of getting lost is that you get to learn that not knowing where you are, or how to get to where you want to go, isn’t the worst thing in the world.  Sometimes, you will backtrack or find yourself back on the same street, having no idea how you made that circle.  You might also find that you come across something beautiful and unexpected along the way.  There is a piece of street art painted on a wall in Los Angeles that I love and that I also know if I am seeing it, means I went the “wrong” way – again.

There will be days when you are late to something important or you end up in a scary neighborhood. Being lost isn’t always a delight.  But it is always a choice as to how we handle being in that space were we can’t quite see the path out.  Being irritated and frazzled or swearing at the people you love are choices.  Noticing the street art and being grateful to the artist is another choice.  Surrendering to the truth that you can’t always get where you want to go in the time you want to get there – if you get really good at it, sometimes you get to have ice cream before dinner.

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