Today, we went for a hike a few miles off the Blue Ridge Parkway and managed to get turned around and confused. We were lost.

Look, I’ve been lost in the woods before and it always feels the same to me. Lousy! More than anything, I want it to stop, to know where the heck I am and feel safe, again. My inner child gets worried and my inner critic gets harried.

Before we realized we were lost, the hike really was beautiful. Lots of Hemlock and Pine trees, a gentle creek and fresh air inside my lungs like I haven’t felt since hiking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. It was just glorious.

Twenty minutes into the hike, just to be careful, Beth asked a fellow hiker about our direction.

“Oh, just keep going up ahead and it will curve around in a loop and bring you back to your car!”

The trouble with this set of directions is that it did not account for at least half a dozen new trails and the end of the one we were on. But we kept going until we were thirty minutes further into the woods and, it seemed, no closer to the truck.

And did I mention it was 5:30pm? Once, many years ago, we had done a similar thing and got really lost. In that instance, we had no cellphone, wallet or water. Pretty dopey, huh?

Beth said, “I think it’s time to go back the way we came.” And I agreed. Doubling down on a bet is not a solution to a losing streak! And so we turned around.

Luckily, one of my skills has always been to mindfully lay down a trail as I go. Every turn I take, I always mark it in my mind. I’m a little like Hansel and Gretel that way. So, it was pretty easy to undo what we had done!

Arriving back at the truck, I felt relieved. The trip back on the parkway restored my central nervous system back to normal and I enjoyed a laugh about it with a friend on the phone.

One of the reasons I did not want to go on adventures, vacations or trips as a young man (or even a middle-aged one) was the discomfort of being lost or unsure or confused. Very often, signage stinks and trail markers are non-existent or misleading. It makes me mad.

As I grow older, though, I’m starting to realize that it’s not so bad. It’s lousy to feel lost, sad or angry for a while and then it ends. I can live with that. If the choice is to just stay home, I’m not doing that.

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