On being lost…

A glimpse into your character emerges when you are lost. Do you get pissed off? Start blaming the layout of the damn city for such an illogical arrangement? Stay cool, stop and ask direction as soon as you realize you aren’t where you want to be? Turn around and back-track to see if you can discover where you went wrong?  

Yeah, we all turn down the radio in the car when we really don’t know where the hell we are. That’s a given…  

When i’m driving, and realize i’ve got nary a clue* as to where i am, i just poke around until something looks familiar.  Backtrack a little.  Wander a little.  “Phone a friend” if it makes sense.  Eventually i end up where i intended to go.  

For the past several months, i’ve had a vague feeling of being lost.  Not on my drive to work or anything.  Just lost in general.  Ms. Melodramatic has even said the words out loud to herself on occasion – trying them out to see what they taste like.  Unlike driving through a scary neighborhood when you’re late, and trying to find the office of a new doctor, it hasn’t been “panic” lost.  More of a free-floating “wonder if i’m going to get there” lost.  

Since i had a few errands to run on a rather spectacular late summer afternoon, i hopped in the Jeep today and charted a meandering path to soak up some sunshine and knock a few items off the mundane ‘to do’ list.  Driving from the pharmacy to my favorite spot for cheap gas, i was singing random song snippets to myself, and enjoying the day.  

It finally hit me that i’m not even close to being lost.  Far from it.  i can navigate the streets of my existence blindfolded in a hurricane.  All of my senses let me know where i am.  The smell of the gym as i bash my muscles and bones.  The taste of the bourbon barrel ale consumed with good friends around a pub table.  The warmth of the large brown dog who lies contentedly on my feet.  Chattering voices outside my office, letting me know that i’m late for a meeting.  

i am here.  Right here.  No doubt about it.   

What i don’t know, however, is where i am going.  i’m not lost.  i’m wandering aimlessly.  Destination unknown.  Enjoying the scenery.   

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. My "new" bike - '76 Honda CB360T. Needs work. But hey, i've got time. Not like i'm going anywhere...

* No, i do not have GPS. Nothing against them. In fact, when i’m with someone who has a Garmin, or even the iPhone app that ‘pings’ your location, i find it fascinating. i just don’t want one. When i travel on business, i study maps and locations in advance, and use mapquest to prepare large-print directions from “point A” to “point B”. Something comforting for me to have studied a map before i get somewhere… Usually works out ok.

51 thoughts on “On being lost…

  1. Lost is a topic that seems to be on a lot of people’s minds these days. I’ve been lost myself from time to time, though, as you say, not so much lost as directionless. Sometimes that’s enjoyable, to just go along with the flow of things, and sometimes it’s scary. Leaves me with a trace of free-floating anxiety that tends to burgeon if I don’t remind myself of who I am and where it is that I WANT to be. Looking forward is a great rudder that steadies me and reminds me that where I’m headed is in my own hands.

    I’m a map lover too. Mizz Navigator from way back.

    Nice bike. 🙂

    • you at least have a place you ‘want’ to be…. i can look forward to this, or that, or find myself comforted in knowing that i probably have a few more adventures ahead of me. but as for ‘wanting’ to be somewhere? nope. got nothing. it’s not good or bad. just kinda weird…

  2. I’m still lost. I reached my retirement goal and now can choose where to go and what to do with no pressures (excepting the required moolah) so I have started doing what feels good for each day. I have no idea what I will be doing tomorrow. But that is unimportant. We are not guaranteed tomorrow.

    As Baz Luhrmann said, “Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life…the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year
    olds I know still don’t. ”

    Oh, and I love maps – it is a nuisance that Google Maps now over-ride all the other maps I used to find on the ‘net.

    • i think i’m there already, although i’m yet to retire. the job does provide some degree of structure, but in general, i am floating… it’s a good feeling, i think. Baz is on target – i harbor some guilt for not wanting to do something meaningful with my life. i used to. i was going to change the world, you know. now? i’m going to change the tires on that bike.

  3. Like the bike.
    Lost is something I hate. I have to plan, know where I’m going, how long to get there. If I should get lost..I turn around and back track to a place that looks familiar. I have a TomTom now so I rely on it very heavily. I am set in my ways once I know a path, it’s always the same path..Hubby calls me very predictable and he’s right. He can even have a conversation with me without talking to me…he knows most of the answers.
    On my way to being lost in Milwaukee soon and have already started studying the streets where we’ll live. I even have google maps on my phone just in case I get lost while out walking around.
    trying to break out of my safety shell and explore new things…new place, back to college and exploring with the family..should push my limits of anxiety but I finally feel ready to conquer it all.
    Love the post..very meaningful/thoughtful for me at just the right time in my life..thank you

    • I love that you have really brought out the thoughtfulness in people for this post and are prompting elaborate responses..you have a gift for getting people to talk/write..

      • Milwaukee is a LOVELY town! i spent a very happy weekend there with a friend last summer, and it was delicious! liveable and affordable and friendly! Over the 4th of July weekend there is an amazing weeklong music festival! Any kind of music you want? You can find it there! Congratulations on a fresh start – you’ll find your new routine!

  4. Yeah…. no need for stinkin’ GPSes… it’s far more interesting to get their on one’s own.

    I’m just climbing out of a two=year divorce, and so I once was lost, but now I’m found. I think. Had my heart torn up this summer, to boot.

    However, I am surely trying to enjoy all the change and trying to keep perspective.

    And that motorcycle’s got me thinking!

    • The first year post-marriage was a little reckless for me. Got my heart stomped on a bit, too. All that freedom takes some getting used to, but sitting around in my boxers on a sunday morning, unshaved and reading the paper? priceless… enjoy your wanderings.

  5. jaysus, daisy, sometimes i think we are sisters or at least cousins. i’ve got a few years on you, but you’ve summed up where i am right this instant! this entry makes me all the more sad we didn’t connect here in my little town. xoxoxo

    • i think there are quite a few of us in this boat. we had such clear purpose when our kids were young. now that the most important job we had is nearly complete? we ask “now what?” i’m expecting to get back to your lovely town – hoping for a reason to get there this winter. will definitely let you know.

  6. Totally unrelated to your post but I did hear something this morning you may get a chuckle out of.

    Friend of my brother was having breakfast with a bunch of us. Something was said about manners and traveling. Us southern folks tend to have a bit of an accident. He said one time he and a buddy were lost in a far off state. A nice lady asked if she could help them. He said:

    Ma’am we are as lost as last years Easter Eggs.

    Love that line. Feel free to steal it and use anytime the situation fits.


  7. I’ve always said that I’ve never been lost. Just, sometimes, it takes me a little bit longer to get where I’m going.

    I’ll cop to having a little of that where am I going feeling too. Apparently I’ve been ignoring the sign posts, ‘cuz they been slappin’ me upside the head lately. The picture, I think, it starting to emerge from the fog, though. However, a little more time is needed yet.

    Does the direction-less bit come from the uncertainty of current times? (I mean, in the world, as a whole – or hole – take your pick.) I’ve been mulling these things over in my head, but haven’t taken any of them up on my blog as of yet. Nothin’ but fear stoppin’ me, I suppose.

    • understand the ‘waiting’ part. i can fully retire with 80% of my current salary in about 7 years. that’s astonishing, but is part of my holding pattern. is the ‘state of the world’ a factor? for me? definitely. i genuinely used to think i could make things better, change the world and all that. i even tried, working many community projects, serving on boards, raising money. but it’s far too bleak out there… i’ve given up. i need to revisit that, i suppose….

    • there was a time when i wanted company for the entire ride. now? i am quite content to enjoy the time with the hitchhikers i meet along the way. my fear of entrapment over-rides any craving for constant companionship. but i’m about 15 years older than you are, you sexy little whippersnapper… and i’m emotionally dead. you’ll find the companion….

  8. I think that aimless wandering could be seen as lost… unless you embrace the idea of wandering. Just because I also embrace the patterns of my life (wake, work, wake, work) doesn’t mean that I need a destination beyond the day, or hour, as that’s where I live.

    you are my web-idol!

    and how did you steal my dream bike from my psyche?

    • you’re right – the routine is important. to others, it can look like a grind, but there’s comfort in it. i need my dog snoring at the foot of my bed to feel grounded sometimes. if you enjoy the rhythm of your life? doesn’t seem there’s a need to change it…

  9. Waiting, waiting, waiting. All my life, I’ve been waiting for my life to begin, as if somehow my life was ahead of me, and that someday I would arrive at it. (Quote by – Camryn Manheim) ……. I happened to have this stored as I’m doing a post next week about ‘waiting’ …… seemed relevant ……. or not ……. what’s for tea?

    • along the lines of the quote from somewhere “life is what happens while you’re making other plans”. i went through a period of ‘waiting’ (not just the 2 weeks i spent as a waitress), and felt like too much of a spectator in my own life. i’m far more comfortable playing it as a contact sport… Tea? Some stale pita bread and the casserole i made you last week.

    • thank you Buckaroo Bonzai… i could have saved a few hundred words and just used your comment. You can find another scooter. You have, perhaps, mourned long enough…

  10. Nicely articulated Daisyfae, and I think it is fair to say that “navigate the streets of my existence blindfolded in a hurricane” serves as a nice little aim of the game!

    • being a good navigator is an important skill… maybe that’s why i still use maps? it’s much better for me to see the bigger picture, and have a sense of the larger playing field…

    • Looking forward to it, my dear nursemyra! Ms. Cats might enjoy hanging with the wild and wacky broads of the international blogosphere for a few days! but will she do a corset shot?

    • when my children were small, i had focus. i had purpose. i was on a mission. every decision in my life was weighed against potential impact to them. when that goes away? it’s very necessary to enjoy the ride – because there truly is nowhere i need to be…

  11. Do you know who Spalding Gray was? He spoke of “perfect moments” that you occasionally enjoy in life. There aren’t many of them and they arise of their own accord. It’s nice that you noticed it when it arrived. Sometimes they pass and you don’t know you had it until years later.

    • Much like Kurt Vonnegut’s Uncle Alex, who made a special point of calling out such moments by saying “Well, if this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is!” It’s all transient. There will be more darkness ahead, and heartbreak, and god knows what… but there is more light, and joy and silliness and companionship, too…

  12. Years ago when I was rich and single I used to drive off into the wilds of western Europe and become intentionally lost. I’d have maps with me to get me home again, but I’d not look at them on the way out.

    Sometimes I go for days like this, stopping for the night when I found somewhere nice.

    On some occasions I’d find myself just turning in vague circles and staying pretty close to where I lived (Holland at that time); other times I’d end up insane distances away – Denmark or something.

    I’ll never buy a GPS.

    • To me? That sounds like sheer joy… after a certain age, and perhaps after dealing with too much responsibility, it gets hard to do that. i am hopeful that i will learn this while i can still ride a motorbike… and GPS? what for? once i’m retired, there will be none of that…

  13. I find I live my life always waiting for the next step. “I can’t wait until I’m old enough to drive!” “I can’t wait to graduate college!” “I can’t wait until the kids are older!” “I can’t wait until the kids go to college!” Maybe if you relax enough to know you’re lost, you’re not really lost. Unlike me. One day I’ll be saying, “I can’t wait till I’m dead!”

  14. robinaltman – the magic of the ‘I can’t wait…’ system? you always have something to look forward to! i’ve often thought this is an essential element to contentment and happiness… keeping something out there that is good! maybe not death, though. we’ll all get there eventually…

  15. That was nice, Daisyfae. I feel a little like a let-go balloon during the Summers when the kids are home and our schedule is, well, not there. Once things start back up in the Fall, I float back down to Earth – it feels warm and comfortable and safe. Someday, they’ll be just seasons so I’m enjoying the lost and found cycle while it’s here. And nice wheels, sugar! Paul bought that book not too long ago – I’m waiting for the bike to appear.

    • i’ve been a floaty balloon before… summers were always like that. lots of schedule improv. this one, however, has no real end in sight. sometimes liberating, sometimes a bit unnerving. i just sort of miss the days when i really believed i could make a big difference in the world. now? i’m farting around with great enthusiasm…

  16. I’m not necessarily lost. I know where I am, and it’s not that great, but I’m not sure how to get anywhere else. Stranded, I guess you could call it. It’s the unemployment talking.

  17. I’m also a map-reader. No GPS, no nothing. Because I just memorize as much of the map as possible, and I can always find my way. I love it. GPS drives me nuts.

    • it helps when you learn which streets run parallel, a few ‘through’ streets. what i always want, though, are landmarks… if i had a map with gas stations and banks on it, i’d be in better shape…

  18. Maps all the way. GPS is only as good as the data system it is connected to. I have read and heard about way too many fubars to ever trust it.

    Besides, research has shown that people have a dead reckoning system in their brain somewhere that only functions properly if it is used. If you rely on GPS too much, that system shuts down and pretty soon you can’t navigate your way out of a paper bag in your living room without the little electronic device to tell you how. Ok, maybe that is an exaggeration.

    The other nice thing about maps is that they never need a battery, nor do they require a satellite connection to function.

    • i think there’s something to the ‘use it or lose it’ aspect of human navigation. my plan for my next scuba class? underwater navigation, with a compass. i think that’s just a damn fine skill to have in life… you never know…

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