There are different types of lost. Sometimes we don't know where we are. And other times we don't know where we are going. I think the worst type of lost is when we have no clue we are lost.
Last night we took a taxi to my older kids' school. It was a back-to-school night where we rush around and listen to all the teachers talk for ten minutes or so. In our case it meant three school schedules (3 kids on this campus) and two parents, so we planned to skip some classes. (Isn't this every kids dream--skip the classes they don't want to attend.)
How did we get lost? The school is in a new area of the city, 45 minutes away. (Guangzhou has about 8-9 million people, so it is a big city.) We drove with some other parents so we could split the fare.
They told the driver where to go--since they speak Chinese. We drove and drove. It is a long way and for a long time the route looked familiar, but then it didn't. The driver slowed down, rolled down his window and while driving at the pace of a bicyclist he asked where Science Park (the technology park where the school is at) is. We wandered more. He asked some people standing under an overpass. We started making phone calls. Of course he didn't have a map and the standard map doesn't go out this far. And we'd left the one decent map at home. He rolled down his window and talked to another driver while we waited at an intersection. We circled some more and he asked more people. The taxi driver was at least in the right section of town, but had no idea where he was or where to go. The 15th or maybe 20th person he asked (in another 30 minutes of driving) knew where Science Park is. We arrived 30 minutes late after 1 1/2 hours in the taxi. At least taxis are cheap here and he didn't charge the full fare which would have been about $20. It should have cost $10--if he'd driven there correctly.
The other couple we went with had arranged for a ride home earlier in the day, since taxi drivers tend to get lost and can't find the school. (This happened to me last time I was at the school. It took me 45 minutes to get a driver--the guards at the entrance called and it took them several calls to get a driver who knew where the school was.)
The funny thing--I wasn't stressed. Five years ago I would have been super stressed. I figured the worst thing would be missing the evening. (I am stressed about other things--like the MFA packet I'm sending to Margaret next week.)
I sometimes get lost when I write. It doesn't stress me like it used to. I know that sometimes a character needs to wander and find out where she is going. I'll revise out the wanderings later. Other times I don't know where I am in the story and that can mean stepping back and looking at the plot, getting to know my characters better and if I'm really lost, asking my writing friends for directions.
We need to be brave and explore our stories and our neighborhoods. And when we get lost--for we will get lost--remember that all will end well. After all, getting lost is part of living.
In Memory: Julius Lester
10 hours ago