I am lost. The weird thing about this lost, however, is that I am lost in the most familiar places — my home, my relationships, my life. One thing has changed, but that one thing has changed everything. Lost is a place too, a place of feeling unsettled, disoriented, disconnected. My preference is to be found, to feel comfortable, clear, and connected.
Several years ago, when I think we had only one strapped in a car seat in the back, we got lost after dark on our way to my sister’s acreage for the first time. We turned down endless back roads, each of them looking familiar, but none bringing us to the right place.
It was dark, and muddy. We were lost in a place that was familiar to me and new for Marc. We had an insufficient map, no smart phone or GPS. We were tired. The roads are a grid system, I spoke aloud from my farm-girl upbringing, as much for me as for Marc. We’ll either find where we are going or hit a correction line or a highway, and we will be found.
Maybe because I like puzzles, I switch into lost gear pretty easily on the roads. Ignore the clock. Try a turn. Acknowledge a mistake. Embrace the not knowing. Ask for help. Blind navigation is decidedly different than travelling from one known place to another. Our eyes were on the gas tank with each turn, not knowing if we were getting closer to the destination or further away. And we made it, eventually.
The lost task is simply to move through and rest in the lost. The place we are is the place from which we will be found. And when applied to the rest of my life, this is easy to say and much harder to do; it often feels like a kind of dying for me.
This season of lost has been full of summer adventures, lots of nights in the beds of gracious hosts, water and sand, and big emotions. When we arrived home from our summer camping trip, I began the detox process of trying to return our family to a normal routine. I lasted four hours. With a deep breath, and an imagined white flag, I surrendered to the lost. New priority: as much peace, rest, and lack of resistance as possible.
The paint on the walls is the same colour. We are eating the same food. The bikes still take us out to the park a few times a week. But there are shoes and unpacked bags from last month’s adventures sitting by the doors. The laundry is not getting done with any predictability. My little guy has been picking through folded-but-not-put-away laundry baskets for clean underwear for more than a week — and we have reset the counter more than once.
Where I once had lists and plans, I have vague ideas of what needs to get done, and most of it gets addressed only when it must. I am learning to accept that the rest doesn’t matter. It feels like failure for this recovering perfectionist. It feels like drifting aimlessly, with none of the adventure from that dark muddy nights with the security of grid roads.
Unsettling as it feels, however, the skills from the road trip are transferable. Ignore the clock. Try something. Forgive a mistake. Resist the need to know. Phone a friend and ask for help. My people are doing the same, in the house and in their own houses, and the mess looks different as we all navigate our way through the lost.
This lost place, this lost season. It holds the route to the next one. Messy rooms and too much TV and choosing peace and rest will allow us to survive until the next season emerges, until clarity breaks through the fog. There will be seasons ahead where we have more focus, seasons for a routine, for discipline, for pursuing goals. Lost is not that place.
And lost is not the problem. My preference not to be here is the problem. And my barefoot, spiritual solution is to note my preference and ignore it. For now, surviving this hour and this day is enough. A spirituality of survival is teaching me to let go, to surrender, to once again stop trying to hold it together. It feels unfamiliar and shallow, but I suspect that the messy counters and unbathed kids are part of the correction line, a deep well from which found will flow, eventually.
Perrault is a wife and mom, a grateful employee of Emmanuel Care, and a speaker, writer and consultant at www.leahperrault.com