Get Lost!

June 26, 2017

Is getting lost an entirely bad thing? It’s disorienting, disturbing, and problematic. But I think there can be upsides. I guess I’m just a perpetual optimist who sees problems as opportunities. One door closes, another opens. That sort of thing.

Letters from Mexico

T-shirt image that reminded me of the benefits of getting lost.

Don’t get me wrong — I’m not telling you to go to Yellowstone and get lost there. I don't purposely run after bad experiences. Shit happens. It’s more about knowing that it happens and how to learn from it.

Many years ago I took myself on a solo retreat to a spot I’d been to before. It was near the road and had a small waterfall. I brought some psilocybin mushrooms along with.

It was a rainy morning. I left my tent for a while during a break in the showers to stretch my legs. I wandered a bit too far and couldn’t find my tent.

This was the beginning of a very long (lost) hike on soggy trails-- ‘till I finally found my tent. My feet were as heavy as cinder blocks.

I decided I didn’t need those mushrooms. I already had my trip.

Fourteen years ago I retired to central Mexico to a volcanic region with mountains sculpted into temples, mushrooms, and the like. Hikes in these mountains are stupendous!

The wilderness trails only go on for a few miles in any direction before hitting roads. But the terrain is steep and rugged. Some trails are of the goat variety, with one to two hundred feet drop offs at the edges.

Sunrise from my terrace.

A few months ago I moved to a new apartment with a trail only a five minute walk away. I’ve been hiking in this area and found connecting trails a nice three to four hour climb to a nearby town.

Mind you, these trails are not completely connected. I followed cow patties in places, knowing the cows would stay away from the drop offs and that they'd eventually lead to a trail.

A couple of weeks ago I left the house at 8 AM to avoid the afternoon heat. My desire to explore new routes got me lost. I realized that if I kept going along the unknown route in the same direction I’d be going through a large area of poison ivy and wind up down the mountain, but far from my home.

I backtracked and found a trail going in the right direction. After eight hours of hiking I was very tired and out of water. This long downhill trail was narrow and steep. My knees began to ache. I feared they would lock up and I would tumble down the mountain.

I was lucky. I made it all the way down winding up only fifteen minutes from home.

You could imagine that getting lost has many metaphorical meanings applicable to other life situations. I’ll discuss this more in a future story. Meanwhile, I’ll leave it to you to figure out how getting lost and gaining it’s benefits might apply to your life.

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This is the story of my experiences living as an ex-pat in Mexico since 2003. It's the first in a series to culminate in a published book. With your help, I'll be editing, selecting a title, and cover art: a participatory project.


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