I’ve been working at the paper since July 2019. In that time, I’ve traveled all over the county, all the way up to the border. Most of the places I’ve gone have been places I’ve never been before. Most of the things I’ve done have been things I’ve never done before. Most of the people I’ve met have been people I’ve never met before.
I’ve never yet gotten lost.
(Not for lack of trying, either.)
I’ve gotten stuck — up in Rangeley on a holiday with a dead camera battery and another half hour of photo taking to do, off the road into a ditch in Phillips at 8PM, on the shoulder of the road in Coplin Plantation in the dark with a secondhand smoke induced coughing spasm — but that’s not the same as getting lost. And there was always someone to help.
In Rangeley, I texted the police chief and asked where I could charge the battery, and he pointed me to the grocery store. They let me charge the battery for a bit while we browsed and picked up lunch and a few groceries, and I got my photos.
In Phillips a couple guys stopped and used one guy’s truck and the other guy’s chain and popped me out of the ditch easy as anything. Made sure I was all set before they left.
In Coplin a Lucas Tree truck driver stopped to see if I was okay. I was crying, on account of not being able to breathe very well and having to stop in a place where I didn’t have cell signal, but there wasn’t anything he could do. I just needed time to ride out the coughing, so he reluctantly left. But the action of someone stopping to check was something that still makes me feel like it’s not all rubbish in the world today.
But I’ve never gotten lost.
I was talking about it with my big brother Caleb when I was down in Cape Cod to see those boys, and was able to put words to what I meant.
I may not always know where I am, but I always know what to do to go where I want to be, or what to do to go back where I came from.
I don’t feel lost if I know where to go. And I always seem to know where to go.
I am lost when I don’t know where I am and I don’t know where to go or what to do.
And that’s where I’m at with this virus.
I don’t know where I am.
I don’t know where to go.
I don’t know what to do.
Here’s the thing about being lost: you need to do a little bit of letting go. If you’re sitting in the car clutching the steering wheel for dear life, you need to pry your fingers off it and get the map out of the back seat before you can even think about getting unlost.
We don’t really have a road map for this situation. And it’s not like getting lost in the woods where you might need to just sit down and wait for rescue teams to find you.
I don’t know how we get unlost here.
I don’t know where we’re trying to get to.
I don’t know how to get back to where we were.
All I can do is let go, take one step, then the next. I feel like I’m learning to walk all over again.
I think of a wee little babe learning to walk who was so focused on taking a step that she held her breath; she couldn’t get past that first step when she was holding her breath.
I need to let go and breathe deeply in, out, in, out, to the beat of my footsteps.
Here’s the other thing about being lost: it doesn’t matter where you’re going and where you’ve been, if you’re okay right where you are. That is my wish for each and every one of us: that we will find a moment of stillness where we are.