This week I was reminded of story. When my oldest child was learning to drive, we would make her drive home from unfamiliar places to build and reinforce her mental maps of the metro area. The city was laid out in a perfect grid, so if you knew key cross-streets it was possible to navigate without understanding where you were. In the days before Google maps, this was an essential skill. The time to feel lost and desperate in the dark, in an unfamiliar neighborhood, is when your parents are in the car to help if necessary.
Reviewing the Merriam-Webster definition of “lost,” it appears lost is a state of mind rather than a state of being. The world has not changed, I am merely unaware of my place in it. I am disoriented. When my oldest drove us home that horrible (her word) night, she was disoriented. We were confident in her ability to take us home, so confident we mocked her misery by singing the first bars of “O, Canada” repeatedly, as if she would manage to drive us to Canada before she figured out where she was. It was not helpful.
If I am lost, I am unaware of my place in the world.
What am I, if not lost? Roget’s thesaurus suggests when we are no longer lost, we are connected to purpose and to others. The oldest child, driving on that dark street, was “lost” until she recognized familiar landmarks. Once she understood the relationship between her current position and her goal state, even though her physical position did not change, she was “found.”
The soul needs time to be lost. I can’t imagine a life with each step pre-determined. When we are lost we are gifted the opportunity to learn about who we are, what we do and don’t value, and a chance to make abysmal trades and discover what is non-negotiable. Being lost is uncomfortable, yet necessary. It is how we learn our way home. I think we err by standing still and waiting to be found. Make a choice. Check, adjust.
Being lost is uncomfortable, yet necessary. It is how we learn our way home.