My son asked me the other day when I knew what I wanted to do with my life. Or, when I understood my purpose. Or, when I stopped feeling lost.
I answered, I still feel lost, somewhat. Or, sort of on and off. Or now and then.
I guess what has changed, I explained to him, is that I accept that lostness as part of the journey. What I mean is that I no longer look for a final destination, a once-and-for-all-time answer to any question.
My son wasn’t satisfied with my Rilke-like response that one should be patient toward all that is unanswered in one’s heart and love the questions themselves (insert rolled eyes image here…); he wanted something concrete. Like, how does one get un-lost? How does one find the right answer? What IS the right answer?
I tried to explain that we figure it out as we go along. That life has stages. That rare is the Mozart (who died very young, incidentally) who is a genius and knows at an early age what their purpose is. Most of us have many chapters with different answers and purposes and goals.
So maybe we are never lost.
Maybe we think we are lost because we are not there, that mythic land where all journeys end (I call this death). And maybe the answers for each moment are in each moment. Presence. Breath. Body. Senses. Maybe the only sense of lost-ness is being disconnected from this moment.
And for the questions, the big angst-filled questions of what do I do with my life and is this person right for me and should I immigrate to Israel we go inside try to find what is most true for right now and remind ourselves that it’s a journey. We don’t have to figure it all out. Just put one step in front of another…
I recently came across the poem Lost, by David Wagoner. I’m including his poem in its entirety, because the whole of it is a salve, an elixir, an oracle. A gentle nurturing embrace.
Lost, by David Wagoner
Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same Raven.
No two branches are the same Wren.
If what a tree or bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.
If we are feeling lost, maybe we need to tell ourselves we are where we need to be right now, and maybe we need to let the greater knowingness or forest or divine find us.