My sense of direction is so notoriously off base that, given a fork in the road, I now take the way that feels instinctively wrong, in the near certainty it will lead me where I need to go. GPS was most definitely invented for people like me.
Getting lost has its benefits, when you are not in a hurry or if you are travelling – I wouldn’t have come across many a sight, an interesting neighbourhood or even a shop, had my efforts to get somewhere been completely mis-directed. Although I descend from a people of sailors, there is no possible way any of my ancestors ever rode the waves – the progeny would have drowned long before getting to me.
This penchant for getting lost, I noticed, sometimes translates into losing myself emotionally. It’s as if the roadmap to my feelings gets displaced or my inner GPS goes haywire. I have come to accept this, at times discomforting and disconcerting, state as part of what makes me who I am, an intensely loving person at heart.
Getting lost in the maze of what one is feeling has its rewards – people like me do not think about the consequences when they throw themselves in an endeavour, a relationship, a new job, a baby. There is no list of pros and cons, no barriers are erected, there are no expectations. We just let ourselves feel what comes naturally, we explore the nooks and crannies of the emotions that arise, we’ll turn a corner and will be blinded by a moving sunset we didn’t know was there.
On the other hand, we can veer so far from our original destination or home, that we will be caught in a sudden downpour we didn’t expect, then faced with the choice of running for cover or getting wet to the bone. While wet clothes clinging to the skin might not be a particularly pleasant sensation, I will choose being caught unaware over following the intended path.
Getting lost, literally and figuratively, has landed me many adventures – long before GPS was invented and a three lane freeway was built in the Yucatan peninsula, my friend Sue and I attempted to navigate the Mayan ruins with a rickety jeep and a map that, even in the absence of map reading skills, I could tell was approximate at best. Following the only carretera available, with only a handful of Pe-Mex petrol stations along the way, we still got lost in the Mexican jungle, in a torrential downpour, when we realized the top of the convertible jeep did not belong to that particular car and the wipers didn’t work. With Sue at the wheel, I was hanging over the windshield, mopping with a towel to create some visibility. With no money for fancy hotels, and with only a cluster of hotels available to begin with in the whole area, we ended up sleeping in somebody’s garage, with a shower that rained a few measly drops of water to wash out the mud. But, sitting next to a British couple of gargantuan proportions and freewheeling spirit (which I deduced from the unshaven legs of the female half), the owner of our “room” grilled us the best piece of fish we had during the entire vacation.
That’s when I probably learnt that, for someone who meticulously plans her daily activities, compulsively writes list, is always on time and will not go to bed with a stack of dishes in the sink, getting lost on all levels is my way to live in the moment. That is why I haven’t followed a map ever since. Not even an emotional one.