I thought I was lost today.
I waved goodbye to my friends, got my bearings and headed off from the drop off point, in search of the villa I had booked. The medieval streets of Orvieto (Italy) are not intuitive and after only 5 minutes, things weren't aligning as I thought they should. My right turns suddenly snaked left and then left again, bringing me anywhere but where I wanted to go. Rolling my suitcase behind me over the cobblestones, I grew increasingly frustrated as one misdirection followed another until I got confused about where I was. I stopped, too a deep breath, stared at my map, then turned both it and myself to face a new direction and headed off again. And once again, just when I thought I was on the right track, the street veered in the opposite direction and I was faced with an undeniable truth - something was wrong - it was either me or the map. I was flummoxed.
I was lost!
The longer I was lost the more defiant I became; I refused to turn around, to back track, to loose covered ground. "Push on, make sense of this, find the next turn" was the internal refrain.
“But I am lost!” replied the internal wail.
Three more attempts kept bringing me back to the same little square with a bench, a statue of some guy and a fountain. (All of which I completely ignored because I knew I was lost, and when one is lost one must proceed with haste and determination in order to get unlost).
Of course, the irony of it all was that the whole purpose of this trip was to give myself the gift of time: to explore, to pause, to discover. Seems the Universe and the ancient city streets had conspired to give me just that opportunity, but I was having none of it. I was way too preoccupied by being lost.
I called the Villa owner, he quickly came to retrieve me, and together we strolled the 4 short blocks to the doorway I had been searching for. “We are here!” he announced as he led me into the courtyard that would be my haven for the rest of the week. I settled in, and once seated in the garden, it occurred to me that I had never actually been lost, simply turned around, the doorway not yet found, only a few short steps away from “we are here”.
"Lost" was really just a state of mind. Of thinking "I’m not where I think I should be" or "I’m out of comfort and control". Had I just changed my perspective and given myself the calm of "not yet found', perhaps I would have been more attentive, seeing what stretched out ahead of me, the cobbled paths, the carriage ways, the inviting cafés.
It seems to me that the signposts that I was really missing were not the ones marking the streets, but the ones inviting me to pay attention, to be present, to ground myself in what IS instead of marching around insisting on “what should be”.
Lost is the feeling that happens when I wandered away from my place of comfort and knowing. For the rest of my stay I will practice “being here”, noticing what the journey is offering in every turn. And first stop on my list? …that delightful fountain beside the bench and the statue of the guy. Hope I get lost!
In Celebration, Tania
Tania Carriere is a leadership and life coach, specializing in adventure retreats that combine learning, adventure travel and wellness. www.advivumjourneys.ca