Getting Lost

Light snow is falling on the other side of the window as I write this in Colorado, trees and grass dusted white. I've had a few memorable trips here, first and foremost my family's visit to Rocky Mountain National Park one summer. We spent a few relaxing days with only intermittent connections to our normal life. Each day included a hike, one much longer than we planned.

We left our cabin in the morning and expected to be back before lunch. Previous hikes had well-marked trails, but this didn't and also had few distinguishing landmarks. As we continued, unsettled at just how long this was taking, we saw a clearing and eagerly stepped through it, only to find ourselves on a road so far afield it didn't even appear on our map.

With no clear idea where we were or signs of other hikers, we decided to try to retrace our mistaken footsteps. After an hour, things were beginning to look less familiar, not more. We were lost.

Before that moment, I always thought that lost was a matter of degree, but this was the binary, unambiguous version.

We put in a lot of effort into not losing our place, from ubiquitous GPS to picking up right where we left off in our books and streams, podcasts and playlists. For me, it's a source of comfort.

I didn't enjoy being lost. We found our way back hours later, tired and sore. The extra miles were mostly stressful and frustrating.

I made sure we wouldn't get lost next time—higher quality maps, GPS, thoroughly planning the route in advance.

Looking back, though, I wish I'd also spent more time being okay with being lost.