My Compass Is Moral

How Would You be Categorized if Lost? According to experts in search and rescue, it is a myth that we panic when lost. Instead, most of us experience shock, disbelief, and embarrassment. Why is so hard to ask for help? It turns out, it isn’t just men who don’t ask for direction. Many people experience an irrational belief that no one is looking for them. When that happens, they don’t call out. Some even ignore a helicopter flying overhead. When we are feeling lost, we have overwhelming senses of isolation and loneliness, don’t we? Hunters become lost because they are focused on the game rather than navigation or time of day. If caught after dark, the typical hunter will build a shelter and then proudly walk out of the woods, unassisted, at daybreak. I think in terms of the modern working mom, or single mom I relate this idea most to the feeling that I’m losing ground in one area of my life while putting energy into another. Especially when serving several masters, time with my family, taking care of myself, working, and maintaining relationships that make the work worth it. Despondent people typically don’t travel very far. If suicidal, they hide from search teams. Despondent people are often found at the interface between two types of terrain, such as a cliff edge, or along a shoreline. I felt that. Really, I have felt that. Lost adults will usually stay on a trail, however, they may climb a hill to get a view of the area. They rarely travel in a straight line, and rarely reverse direction. When we are lost we think we can fix it ourselves. We get higher ground, maybe we get high, or maybe we chase our tails running in circles and jump to some false conclusions. We aren’t clear yet, but we seek clarity. Daniel Boon said, “I was never lost in the woods in my whole life, though once I was confused for three days. “Well, Dan, my man… I feel that… I have spent a lifetime in confusion. Experts suggest you should do the following when lost: Look to see if there are any travel aids in the area. A travel aid is anything that would give a lost person an indication of civilization, such as an abandoned railroad, or a power line right of way.In this way, we are seeking a connection to something outside. Put another way, people need people. Rescuers DO tend to find you more easily if you stay put. One statistic I found said that 83% of those rescued had not moved for more than twenty-four hours. I don’t think it is much of a surprise that those lost remain feeling stuck in a pattern of self-abandonment. So you will find yourself right where you left yourself- in a bad situation, in a job you hate, in a relationship that doesn’t serve you. And you are probably afraid. I know I get scared when I am stuck. Experts say they hope you’ll set a fire. Fires are a great distress signal. And if you are lost for a while and move on, the extinguished fire circles you leave behind provide excellent clues for searchers. Do you have loved ones out there setting fires lately? Trying to ask for help and simultaneously not asking for the help they need? Not ready to unstick themselves from their own patterns of self-abandonment? We can be awfully messy fire-starting fools when in distress. The main objective of someone who is lost is to be found. The best way to be found is to stay in one place. I’ve been well and truly lost, I have hoped to be so lost I could not find myself again. And what I can tell you is in my lost days is that the lost cannot remain in one place, you must go out, venture into the woods to gather food and supplies to survive. I’ve been a lost woman, lost in the woods of pain, relationships, parenting, career, familial expectations, and cultural ones from a religion that feels closer to a cult than it would be to Christ. A lost person must remain in the same place and also not remain in the same place. I got lost a few weeks ago because I was not paying attention, took a turn I thought looked familiar, and then I had absolutely no idea where I was going, and I was running out of gas. Actually, literally was close to empty, this comes from the practice of emptying out the tank and refilling it every time. I don’t even know anything about cars, but someone, somewhere told me that if you want to get the best out of your car always make sure you don’t let old gas rest in your tank. It came as the opposite advice from someone who was mean to me who told me never to drive on the bottom half of the tank, always refuel at the half-gallon mark, and so as I often am, on the bottom half of my tank, I drove on, hoping to find a gas station. I did. I was okay, but I spent longer driving than I really needed to. An accidental detour. This felt familiar though, there was a metaphor in there for me. A lesson I am still not quite getting. I always have felt on the brink of learning, never having mastered the art of knowing. And still, somehow in all my desperate doubting…I know this feeling, running nowhere on empty. Looking for myself outside of myself. I have done this for years. I did this for approval, I have done it for work, for the sake of other peoples’ needs and not my own. I have done it out of shame. Now when I feel lost I know I have to return to where I last felt most myself. I have to return to every girl I have been, every face I have loved, every love I have lost, every place I have been, every conversation I have had, and every book I have ever read. Everything, everything- crumbling and mixing and planted underneath, my entire past there, holding me up and feeding me now. Nothing is wasted. I have everything I need, beneath me, above and inside me. My own navigation skills.

Have you ever felt truly lost in your life? How did you get through it? Share in the comments.