Go ahead, get lost for peace and adventure

Burt's Eye View

“We never get lost anymore,” she said. “Why don’t you ever take me some place where we’re lost?”

It’s true. The adventure, the excitement, the romance of getting lost is, well, lost.

“This neighborhood doesn’t look familiar,” Terry said. “I must have taken a wrong turn.” Her lip quivered. “I think we’re lost.”

“Hold on a sec.” I whipped out my cellphone and swiped open the maps app. A blue arrow popped up on a lighted grid. “Here we are. What’s the name of the site where we’re going?”

Terry told me. I tapped it into the search field and clicked the get-directions icon. A female voice announced, “In a half mile, turn right.”

I relaxed in my seat. “See, Terry, we’re found.”

I expected relief to wash over her. Instead, she cried. “We were so close to not being anywhere near the place. Now we have to arrive.”

Remember getting lost? We used to do it a lot before the invention of cellphones, GPS units and in-dash TV screens.

We had paper maps that service stations passed out free after pumping your gas, checking your oil and cleaning your windshield.

If you were lost, you unfolded the map, which covered the entire front windshield — and heightened the excitement factor — and squinted at acres of small type to see if you could locate the ditch you were about to drop into.

Then you crumpled the map into a ball — they never refolded correctly — and stuffed it into the glove box.

Those were wonderful days.

I’ve found a bison farm, band concerts, yard sales, festivals, bookstores, barbecue stands and whole long expanses of blissful nothingness when lost. I’ve never felt such peace or experienced such grand adventures on the road than when I didn’t know what road I was on.

And here’s the best part: Back before cellphones and all that other high-tech muckety-muck, bosses, bill collectors and people ordering me to clean out the garage had no way of finding me!

I used to practice getting lost. When I was a college student, I knew the university was roughly a two-hour drive southwest of home. So at every intersection, I’d randomly turn south or west. I never knew exactly where I was until about two hours later the dreaded silhouette of the university library invariably loomed over the horizon, and I’d have to go to class and compose term papers. I’ve never perfected staying lost.

Admittedly, I don’t always enjoy getting lost. Taking a wrong turn when I’m late for a family picnic involving six or seven tables of food definitely is not the time to get lost. Getting detoured onto gravel roads when I have tickets for the playoffs is not the time to get lost.

But for the most part, our lives are just flat-out too busy. There are too many people making too many demands on our time. Come see this, go do that, show up at 3, be there or else …

I glanced at my sweet wife. A tear rolled down her cheek. I knew what I had to do. I yanked the battery out of my cellphone. “Oh dear, lady seems to have quit talking. Well, I’m sure she said for us to turn left in two miles.”

“No, she said … oh. Oh! Right. In two miles, turn left. Then I think it was a right at the next stop sign.”

I nodded. “That’s exactly the route.”

Some days, the best thing you can do in life is to get lost.

— Find Cole, if you can, at burtseyeview@tribtoday.com or on the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook.

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