Getting Lost while traveling can be a great thing: Seize the Moment

palm tree

On just about every trip I have taken, I have gotten lost. At times, it is just slightly lost and at other times its been a behemoth mess up. For the most part, I have relished the moment. Mind you, my mother’s everyday living nightmare was that I would get lost. She had dreams that scared her to the point that we never separated in supermarkets. I was to have a hand on the shopping cart at all times. For nine years I was her only child and I was essentially a walking bar of gold. She would not let me out of her sight. I grew up with the fear of getting lost. Thus, of course, I eventually rebelled against that fear and welcomed being lost. The fact that my mother let go of my hand to allow me yo attend boarding school was a major step in easing up on that fear.

 

I remember the first time I got “lost.” I was in seventh grade on a class trip to Central Park in Manhattan. For a South Bronx class, this was a big deal. My group of “innocent, nerd” girls decided to be bad. We had been told we could wander for an hour and had to meet back at a particular time. We rebelled and wandered and turned and wandered and turned. We purposefully got lost. We enjoyed the freedom of being “bad” that came with being lost. We eventually found our way back to the group. We thought we would be viewed as cool, as having had an adventure. No one, however, wanted any part of it. Even the actual “bad” girls were not impressed and were mightily annoyed. Lesson learned: there is a certain sense of  freedom at being lost but don’t impinge on others. Got it!

 

When I lived in Barcelona, Spain as a teenager, I got lost often. I learned to then navigate a train system other than New York. I learned to ask for directions. I learned to just stroll. For a New Yorker strolling was huge as speedwalking is part of our collective DNA. I just walked everywhere and learned to adjust and readjust my paths and met many new folks along the way. I truly learned to bask in the freedom of being lost.

 

For example, in London, I left the hotel one morning and walked and walked eventually getting turned around and lost. I then fond myself in Camden and found the kitty-kat shoes I had long been looking for. It was meant to be.

I now travel thousands upon thousands of miles each year for business. Getting lost when on a time crunch can be a bit anxiety-provoking. However, even then I remain fairly zen about it all. If a place is not even found by GPS then a bit of lateness can be expected. In Puerto Rico, criss-crossing the island, we were lost more often than not. I just sat back, munched on my giant-sized Frosted Flakes and eventually found our way to the meeting location. By getting lost, got to practice my Spanish, my map reading skills and got to take a ton of fascinating photographs of places most tourists never have seen. Even locals have not seen many of the places I have been to. Of course, there was one place we ended up at where some locals distrustful of who we were came out with bats in hand. Yikes. Reminds me of the time we ended up lost near Chicago and ended up getting off in Gary, Indiana. It was cool in that we got to see where Michael Jackson came from. It was not cool, though, in that it was truly a bit dangerous. No shade, but Gary Indiana is indeed very scary. Now, whenever we are navigating the highways outside of Chicago we are very, very mindful.

 

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I wear getting lost and being able to find my way as a badge of pride. We made our way through Puerto Rico following directions such as “when you see the horse, turn left till you see a yellow house, then turn right at the chickens.” I am not making that up, folks. It doesn’t get better than that.

Blurry horse

Blurry horse

Admittedly, when I got a little lost in Japan by taking the wrong bullet train, I suffered a heart-leaping moment. My son saw the momentary fear in my eyes and reacted to it. I had to immediately put a smile on and note everything would be fine. And, it was. We ended up having to sit in a non-reserved seat car and see frenzied interactions in the car. It was much more frenzied and chaotic than the quiet reserved-seat trains. We met a wider array of people and saw a different landscape. We made it back just fine.

 

While business road-tripping in Louisiana recently we got a little lost having to stop and ask the local cops for directions. That in itself was scary. I am not one for much interaction with cops. The less interaction, the better. They were not very helpful but they were not so scary. So, we went on our merry way and found our own way to the meeting location.

 

Just a few weeks back, we went weekend random road-tripping through Connecticut and despite having a GPS we ended up super lost and in Massachusetts. That was never our intent. However, we rolled with the punches and enjoyed the scenery of some very small towns that I would not otherwise travel to.

 

My mom would probably have major issues with my random, often-occurring instances of getting lost. I imagine her still viewing me as a little girl lost. Yet, that image is far, far from who I am. I get lost, engage in new adventures and always find my way back.