The Painful But True First Step to How Life Gets Better
I get lost.
Not lost as in “Where am I?” lost in the forest, although God knows that’s probably only because I don’t spend enough time in forests. (I have been lost, however, in the Mojave desert, on the island of Okinawa, Japan and in my own hometown in Connecticut. Each time, kind adults found me and led me home. I should probably report that I was not a child in any of these instances.)
And, as my son Sam remarked the other day, “People look to you for wisdom? You get lost in Target!”
I gently reminded him that there was a lot going on in my brain, that Target is a big store with many shiny objects, and that he had once left a book in the freezer. He suddenly found a reason to play a game online. No, that apple didn’t fall far from the tree.
I think we all get lost a little. We head down a path in life, sure that we are on the right path—“This is IT!”—and then we found ourselves one day thinking, “Wait. How did I get there? This doesn’t look like the place I saw on the map!” And then we have a decision to make, because no matter where we find ourselves in life, we always have a decision to make because this is, after all, our one and only life.
They say when you are lost that the best thing you can do is stay where you are, until someone finds you. While I truly believe this advice is handy for someone lost in the woods, I’m fairly certain this means death for anyone lost in their own head. Why? Because no one is coming to find you.
Sure, you might have well-meaning friends who nudge you, “Hey, are you going to ________?” as they sense you have cast yourself adrift yet again on someone else’s sea, whether that sea is a lover or a company or a cause. But, if you’re anything like me (and God help us if you are—although I suspect there are more people like me out there), you will ignore these friends for a while because stubbornness is one of your hobbies, along with bullheadedness and the attempt of things way above your skill level.
You will careen blindly on, paddling and bailing and steering this dinghy of life until the signs become too many, so many that you can no longer ignore them. Something is wrong and you have to fix it.
This is the part where most people berate themselves. “Fudge. I did it again.”
But that’s just silly and wasteful self-pity. Better you should rejoice, “Oh thank God. I can choose differently. I will choose differently. Here’s my new choice!”
And then do it. Do it. Do it. Do it.
Whatever it is that you’ve lost, find it.
Whatever it is that speaks to your soul in a secret voice full of ache and longing, waiting, wanting, wishing that you would come back to it, to life, to the wellspring of wisdom, to the fabulousness of feeling, to the simple and sweet taste of being who you really are underneath, underneath what the years have heaped on you and what the tears have tried to reveal in those moments when you are broken—and oh God you are so broken so much of the time you’re like a China vase with glue lines visible among the painted peonies—but this you, the person you are, the things that make you happy, the secret only you speak—this is the path to the light and you know it and you feel it and you take your first step back on it, and then you take another step and another.
You were lost and now you are found. Don’t cry.
And that’s how you find yourself writing your first blog for yourself in three months, and then you write another and another.
Hey kids, I’m home.