I got lost today, physically lost. It was exactly what I needed. I wasn’t lost long enough to be scared, just long enough to consider I might eventually have to call someone for help. I was lost because I went trail running in an unfamiliar place, which is a bad habit of mine (one for discussion in another place at another time).
I was somewhere between Furman University and the town of Travelers Rest when I realized I was lost. I was no longer on the Swamp Rabbit Trail. I’d picked up the SRT after running off of Furman’s campus, but a mile or so in I took an unpaved trail into the woods. I wasn’t paying attention to anything except my pace and the fall colors, so it makes sense that I ended up on a road I’ve never seen before.
Getting lost doesn’t scare me.
Once when I was a kid I got lost in K-mart. I vaguely remember the panic, and the face of the employee who eventually helped me. I say I was lost, I was probably a few aisles away from my mom. Who knows, but to a little kid it was as lost as a person can ever be.
Last month when I was out on a kayak in the ocean alone I thought briefly about the idea of getting lost at sea. I thought about how the currents could push me to a place where I couldn’t see the land I knew anymore. I’d be lost. The thought of that scared me a little, but it wasn’t happening so I didn’t panic.
Getting lost doesn’t scare me now, I like it.
I like having no idea where I physically am, because most of the time I feel mentally lost. I don’t mean lost in despair or anything dramatic. I just don’t usually know where my thoughts are coming from, or where they’re going. My mind generally bounces back and forth between trying to figure out the meaning behind everything; and being pretty sure there is no meaning behind anything. That’s why I write so much down. I’ve only recently started trying to put some of what I write out here in public, but there are filled-up notebooks in my closet – my drawers – on shelves – under my bed that show I’ve always done this. I get lost in my head and I write to sort it out. Sometimes I lose my train of thought while I write, and end up here… stuck… lost again.
Getting physically lost bridges a gap between a mind that’s moving all over the place and a body that almost always knows where it is and where it’s going next. Every once in a while it’s nice to move seamlessly through the world with everything working together. So when I got lost I didn’t use a GPS. I hate GPS. I think it’s ruining our natural sense of direction. So I didn’t use GPS. I had my phone. I really could have. Instead I turned my music off to focus, and organized my generally messy thoughts so I could find my way back.
By the time I made it back I’d added close to two miles to my original path. I’d finished my run along the way so I walked the last mile or so back… and really enjoyed the few rare minutes of synchronicity