I am a geography junkie, and I believe in getting lost.
Since I was a little girl, I’ve loved to look at maps and wonder about the people who made them. I’ve thought about Lewis and Clark on their grand adventure into the unknown. I’ve wondered what it must have been like to sail with Columbus or with Vespucci. I’ve dreamt about charting territories unknown, but have always understood that most of my world has already been explored.
The opportunity to chart the unknown came to me unexpectedly in the early morning hours of September 11. The news from the east coast had not yet begun to filter into my life, but my world had just turned upside down, and I was in unfamiliar territory. My parents were discussing divorce. I was nineteen.
I don’t know how many other people have experienced their parents’ divorce as adults. I’m certain there must be hundreds of thousands of people like me, people who couldn’t find any books or magazine articles or even websites that discuss what can help in their situation. I’d heard of children of divorce, but I’d never heard of adults of divorce. I had no compass, no maps, nothing that could help me chart my course.
I believe that we are never really as lost as we think we are. I was hopelessly miserably lost, I thought, but looking back at the years following that stunning announcement I see that I’d only wandered a short way from home.
I believe in being lost, because in being lost, I found myself. I found the tools necessary for charting new territory. I found that being lost could be a great adventure, rather than a terrible mishap.
My instincts kicked in, and I followed the advice I’d been given as a child. “If you’re lost, stay put. It will be easier to find you that way.” I stood still for a long time until I realized that there were no search parties this time, and I’d have to find my own way out. I tried to remember what I knew about directions. The sun always rises in the east. Moss grows on the north side of the tree. Find the North Star and anchor your journey there.
I found my directions; friends to make the sun rise, and faith to show me my true north.
I’m not lost anymore, but it was being lost that allowed me to find my own way and to understand the value of having a place to call home.
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