The advantages of being lost.
There is one part of my brain that I am sure has never developed. I have no natural GPS system. I have been lost forever. I have no understanding of north or south as a compass might indicate.
I was reared in a small southern town, Clermont, Florida, which had one or two stoplights. I knew if I turned left out my porch door that I would end up at the drug store or movie. It was simple and I felt safe. When we moved to the North, we lived in a Franklin, Ohio. Franklin had four or five stoplights. I relied on Daddy to take me to the library, school, my favorite ice cream shop, and my friends’ homes. I never learned any directions except north was Ohio and south was Florida.
Then, I went to Athens, Ohio for college and realized that I was always off course. I couldn’t find my classes until I had repeated the path countless times. I paid no attention to journey paths because I was enjoying the flowers, the hills, the beautiful architecture, and looking at students that I hoped to know. When I married, we moved to New Orleans. I had no hope at finding my way in that cobble street busy city. Denny took me everywhere because I couldn’t find the French Quarter or Jackson Square by myself. Even when he would drop me off for a shopping trip, I would walk and extra hour or two finding my way back to where he dropped me off at the Café’ du Monde, which we made our meeting point for chicory coffee and beignets.
I never panicked when I went astray in London. I just saw more than other tourist. I got so turned around in Westminster Abbey that I got locked in one of the underground prayer chambers for over an hour. I prayed and had a very special time with God. All was well with my soul when a monk came into the chamber and was surprised to find me. Once I got disoriented in Ireland and went into a barbershop to ask directions. A stout, pink-cheeked Irishman met me at the door of his shop and asked, “ Have you lost your way, lass?” I learned in life, there is always someone somewhere who knows where I am. They give me directions, and I eventually find my way.
My west on my compass represents adventures. I see more than other people because I end up in unplanned places like coffee shops, antique stores, museums, or boutiques. My east often brings me to old bookshops, alleys with lovely petunia plantings, and park benches to view beauty I may have missed if I went directly to my destination. I enjoy being lost in Savannah, Ga. because I end up in a beautiful park square no matter which wrong turn I make. I take time to admire the statues and read historical plaques filled with information that are new nuggets of information to me. Getting lost has reaped some great benefits in my life, including teaching me a little history.
My south is hysteria, not fearful hysteria but the laughing kind. I get tickled when I make a circle and don’t realize it until I return to my original starting point. It is kind of like finding my way and that gets me laughing inside and out, and then I begin again to search for the art museum I am trying to locate in Seattle, New Orleans, Washington D.C., Chicago, and other big cities. I never miss an art museum, but I get a lot of exercise finding it.
I know my north is “others”. Yep, I sometimes feel a little panicky in a run down area that I have carelessly meandered into and ask God for help. I remember being lost in southern England along a river. I met a man that was extremely contorted because he was so bent over. I told him I was lost because I had lagged behind my group because I felt moved to write a poem, and now I needed to find my hotel. He gave me simple directions that I have followed until this day.
“Take time to look up and be grateful for all you have. I hurried through life always looking down because I was thinking of how I could control something, or complaining about others, or being critical of my family. Now, I physically cannot look up and realize how much I am missing in my life time.” I have never forgotten that stooped over man’s advice. My north is my God, who gives me directions and guidance when I take time to ask Him. So, being misplaced never bothers me because my ongoing search for a destination has introduced me to some interesting people and places that I would have missed if I had not been misplaced, that’s a nicer way to say lost, don’t you think?