Thursday, April 8, 2010

"Lost" is Such a Harsh Word

Today, my grandma, sister, brother, and I drove to the beach. It was a trip that should only have lasted three-or-so hours, including bathroom and food stops. It took us almost five. The logical assumption would be that something went wrong, and more specifically, that we got lost. But I wouldn’t say this was necessarily the case.

The first reason I say this is because we intentionally took a detour, in pursuit of a swamp with cypress trees. Well, about halfway through this detour, we had driven for miles and seen lots of beautiful farmland. It was like the road was a time machine, preserved alone in the present while the landscape around us traveled backward a century and a half. It was nice, but we had yet to see any sign of the fabled cypress swamp. We were beginning to question whether we’d turned off at the wrong place, but decided to embrace the situation as an “adventure,” because we weren’t ready to admit that we were “lost.” The car’s compass told us we were still traveling southeast, though, and since that was the heading we wanted, we were content to keep driving… for a while.

Finally, after finding a state map in one of the nooks of the car, and driving some more, and more… and more, we found the swamp! It was worth it—Spanish moss was everywhere, the trees were beautiful, the water sparkled, and the stiff breeze made it all dance. Still, we had the small matter of getting back to the highway to tend to. I, who may or may not have been navigating, may or may not have suggested that we avoid the highway altogether, stay on the road we were on, and take it the rest of the way. This wouldn’t have been a problem if we hadn’t missed the turnoff for the road we wanted, and wound up five miles in the wrong direction on the wrong highway. We figured it out, turned around, and made it back to our route without incident. But it begs the question: were we lost?

There’s the grandparent school of thought, which says that if you aren’t lost for more than an hour, you aren’t lost. Here’s what I think: If you know where you are, you aren’t lost. It doesn’t really matter whether you’re where you’re supposed to be, as long as you know where you are. I also think that even if you don’t know where you are, if you don’t care, you aren’t lost. So, if you haven’t a clue where you are or how to get where you’re going, and you are, in fact, going somewhere, then sorry, you’re lost. Any other set of circumstances constitutes adventure. Adopting this state of mind makes road trips like the one I just enjoyed a lot more… enjoyable.

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