I met a young girl at Starbucks the other night. She appeared to be about 4 or 5 and was quite gregarious. She was enjoying a hot cup of cocoa sitting at the table next to mine with her mother and grandmother, scrutinizing her surroundings. I was drinking a hot cherry mocha and trying, with no success, to do some research on-line.
“Hey! . . . HEY! I’m going to the beach” came the announcement from her table which in reality sounded more like a challenge.
“Excuse me?” I inquired, looking over at her, not certain I was the one whose attention she was demanding.
“I’m going to the beach. We are waiting for my dad, he went to get food, I think he’s lost.”
“That happens sometimes… getting lost” I vaguely replied. “I’ve been lost before. I’m sure he will find his way back.”
“Well, he better get unlost because I want to get to the beach. I’m on vacation from school. My name is Sophie… this is my mom and this is my grandma. They’re with me. We are going to the beach.”
I pulled my head out of my research and genuinely looked at this outspoken little girl who was intruding on my time. “Sophie, it is a pleasure to meet you.” I stated, amused by her candor.
Sophie walked over to my table and shook my hand. She glanced at my computer and asked, “What are you doing?” “Well,” I replied, “I’m looking for something but I can’t find it.”
“Maybe it’s lost.” She suggested.
“Hmmm, I don’t think it is lost, I just don’t think I know where to look for it.” I argued.
“Well it has to be lost if you can’t find it. My dad has a one of those,” she said as she nodded towards my laptop, “and he can help you find it when he gets here.”
“I’m sure I can find it, but thank you for the offer.” I turned my attention back to my work, determined to try and get something done. Sophie’s grandma and mom apparently did not seemed phased by Sophie’s socializing as they continued to speak to one another completely ignoring Sophie and the fact that I was trying to work. Sophie was not to be deterred. “I wish my dad would get here. I think he’s lost. Maybe my mom should call him. … MOM, maybe you should call my dad.” Sophie’s mom focused her attention on her daughter briefly and said, “He’ll be here shortly.”
Sophie looked up at me sighed and asked, “Could YOU call him? I don’t want him to be lost.”
“Sophie, sometimes people get lost but they find their way back. He can stop and ask someone where to go or he can look at a map. Do you think he has a map?”
The little imp in front of me wrinkled up her nose and contemplated for a moment. “Yes, I think he does. Being lost is scary. I got lost at the store and I couldn’t find my mom. I didn’t like it.”
“But your mom found you, right?” “Yes, but it was a looooong time.” And she shuddered at the memory.
Just then the door opened and in walked a man who looked quite like the girl next to me. I nodded at him and asked, “Is this your dad?” Sophie bounded over and jumped up into his arms. “You’re not lost!” She shouted. “No, Not today!” He said with a chuckle in his voice.
As the family walked out the door together Sophie turned and announced, “Good bye! Not lost today!”
Watching them drive away I thought about Sophie’s anxiety over her dad and the possibility of him being lost. I know that anxious feeling. I have been lost myself. The desperation one feels, uncertain if you will find your way, or be found. I remember playing ‘Hide and Seek’ as a child. I was so afraid that I would hide and no one would find me… what would happen then, would I be permanently lost?
Recent years have taught me a thing or two about being lost. I am beginning to discover its advantages. How would I know I am found or where I am suppose to be if I didn’t get lost on occasion? Instead of retreating in fear at the possibility of being lost I am charging out the open door into the great wild world, wondering where I might turn up. By accepting life’s uncertainties I am finding a strange ability to find strength and courage in the unknown, in the insecurities of living.
So, go out, get lost, then find your way to where you want to be, or where you’d like to go… Getting lost can be a grand adventure.
“It is a surprising and memorable, as well as valuable, experience to be lost in the woods … Not till we are lost, in other words, not till we have lost the world, do we begin to find ourselves, and realize where we are and the infinite extent of our relations.” ~ Henry David Thoreau