“Here,” said my husband, “take my GPS device with you. You never know when you might need this.”

“Nah,” I said as I waved my hand impatiently out the car window. “I’ll be fine.”

Seven hours later, I limped into Omaha, Nebraska after a terrifying detour through an endless world of dark and winding cornfields. Without daylight, cellular service or bloodhound instinct, I drifted through unfamiliar waves of stalk and husk. What had begun as adventure ended the same, but my choice to refuse proper equipment meant a decidedly different journey. I reached my destination but not without sprouting a few (more) gray hairs and exercising a healthy dose of colorful expletives. I had succumbed to  a level of fear not otherwise lived in a long time.

As a mother inching toward middle-age, I thought I had given up those foolish impulses, shrugs of impatient independence toward anything too mundane, ordinary or safe (read: boring). And, yet, the sense remains in me to get lost. I love nothing more than a good, uncharted trail as I drink in its hills, crags, hollows and stones. The act of passing into and through undefined moments, an acceptance of and rising to the challenge of discovery, delights me. The people and sunsets and morsels and peace I find are pure oxygen to my spirit, the sweet fruit of going off-road.

Sadly, not all my discoveries have been life-giving. When my desire has been for darkness, my thirst to explore its colorless depths has delivered me to a degree of despair beyond hope of recovery, a sinking from lost to gone. As a recent soundtrack* beautifully captures,

“[Sin] has been a thorn in your side;

It doesn’t forget

The highway that calls for your heart inside.”

What eventually saved me en route to Omaha was the intervention of “an angel”, nameless friends at country convenience stores who sold me ($10?!) paper maps. Yes, there were several such stops; thank you, Lord, that someone still thinks these are worthwhile to print in our digital age. Friends who asked, very indiscreetly, “Where ya headed?” as they pegged me a strange passerby through their story. Funny that this same angel found me spent in a basement bedroom years ago, letting me know that there is, in fact, no such thing as gone for good.

Interestingly, “a little lost” seems to be part of the larger human experience. Aren’t we all a bit baffled from time to time? I’ve certainly found – no pun intended – that a degree of uncertainty exists in most of my days. A nagging sense of deficiency can cling to our work. My husband literally thanked me “for making a detour” recently after I changed my pouty attitude for a better one. It seems in the face of sure fallacy that what matters is to what – or whom – we give our hearts. If living a little lost is inevitable, to whom are we losing ourselves? This choice defines the difference between an adventure that yields succulent fruit and one that steals joy.

*”Weary Kind” by Ryan Bingham; Crazy Heart

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