I’m the Map

January 14, 2012


I don’t mind telling you I’m a bit lost right now.

I remember one time when I was a young tween-ager at some campground up north with my folks. I think it might have been one of those RV trips through Pennsylvania Civil War battle fields, or something. Anyway, this place had bike rentals and a “path”. I ventured off on my own. I spent a lot of time off on my own as a kid. Along the way, I became more and more undecided if the path looped back around to the beginning as I assumed, or just kept going…

At some point it became a bit of a crisis. The sun was getting low, and I had gone so far in my commitment to my intuition that it was indeed a closed loop. But what if I was wrong?

Was the sun in the right place? No one is out here. I haven’t seen any other biker in some time now. I don’t know where I am, I don’t know where I’m going, and darkness is coming.

I turned back.

I had gone so far in my initial commitment. Would I make it back in time? Would the rental place be closed? Would I be in trouble? Why am I the only one out here? I peddled as fast as I could. I did my best to keep my neural chemistry from overwhelming my cognitive functions, which I can rattle off to you now, but couldn’t consciously do so to myself then. I was just a little kid, lost and overwhelmed.

Is that familiar? Am I getting close? I’m lonely. My legs and lungs hurt.

When I finally made it back just after closing time I couldn’t breathe. I remember the young attendants not being sure what to make of this freaked-out kid who was having trouble talking. At some point, an older lady walked in and told them to give me a paper bag to breathe into, as I was hyperventilating. I may have had the breath knocked out of me playing pee-wee football, and all; but experiencing it via an internal blow was certainly something new.

Another time I was off by myself exploring, as usual, on a closer weekend camping trip with my parents just up the coast at Huntington Beach State Park. The attraction for me was not really Brookgreen Gardens so much as the then shuttered and abandoned Atalaya Castle. Thick, masonary walls with wrought iron bars over the windows made it look more incarcerary (yep, it ain’t officially a word) than familial, but the siren song of the broken out upper panel of one of the seaside entry doors was hauntingly irresistible.

I climbed into the darkness. Room after small, stony, shadowy room.  An outer, squared vault containing a large, inner courtyard sanctuary with a central lookout tower.

I remember lying in the sun in the courtyard for a while, blissfully doing absolutely nothing…

As it started getting late, I got disoriented wandering back through the house. For a moment that sense of lost panic welled up in another barren, cement, dead-end room in the maze.

What if I’m lost in this place forever?

It sounds silly all in black and white like that, but chemistry doesn’t really care.

Needles to say, I escaped the labyrinth, crawling out into the open salty air to see the ocean before me and the sun starting to set over my shoulder. The anxiety ebbed. Ebbed, not ceased.

I’m feeling a bit lost, right now. And, whether it all cycles back around or not, there is no going back the way I came in this case. There is only forward…

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16 Comments on “I’m the Map”

  1. sky1111 Says:

    I love the way your words flow and the imagery that flows with them.


  2. The Good Luck Duck Says:

    I can feel the panic you described. I still do these things. I hope that you’re able to stop and find your way now.


  3. Lydia Says:

    I am right there with you, my friend.


  4. kateshrewsday Says:

    Yes, Brett, I concur: we are in a similar place. You write about it- the growing physical panic – so well. What to do? As you say, backwards is not an option. All you and I can do, worlds apart, is put one foot in front of the other with some mechanical fight or flight part of our consciousness.

    And we can talk about it here among friends.

    I guess the destination is always there. It’s just a matter of narrowing the gap between us and it.


  5. Liz DeLoach Says:

    Brett, I love this post, and I thank you for writing it. I find myself amazed at the number of people with whom I communicate regularly that, when we talk beyond the “Hi how are you.” Fine, how are you?” superficialities, convey the very feelings you describe. I say this because I think sometimes we forget that we are not alone in our struggles, even if it often feels that way.

    I’ve been thinking over your post for a few days now, and delayed a reply until I could think of something that I thought might be helpful. So, I hope what I am about to share will indeed serve that purpose.

    Several years ago, I read a classic book written by Dale Carnegie called How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. Much of the advice in it is practical (basic, really) and helpful for anyone who reads it, whether one is a worrier, or not. The one piece of advice that has stayed with and serves me well when I consciously practice it is the concept of living in “day tight compartments.” How does that relate to feeling a bit lost? Well, for me anyway, part of feeling lost involves worrying about where you are now, and where you are headed, as you so aptly described. I feel lost right now myself, truth be told. God, I hate to admit that. That said, my focus right now is navigating through each day all by itself, and taking pride not in how much i did, or what I need to do tomorrow or next week, but just feeling good about the fact that I successfully completed THIS day.

    I hope this helps. I hope when you retire tonight, you can find yourself feeling a sense of pride that you navigated this day, and are therefore not lost, but found at the cusp of yet another day to navigate. And on and on it goes.


    • Brett Myers Says:

      Thanks for such a thoughtful comment on a few levels, Liz. I agree. Some of the days feel like survival mode and I just focus on getting through them. Little victories. I try to practice breaking big, complicated things down to simpler pieces more and more, in general. Otherwise, I have often had a tendency to psych myself out and send myself reeling. What can be tough to determine sometimes is whether or not I am better for the whole psychological experience, but I suppose that loops back to whether I am looking at things in the short or long term… 🙂


  6. WordsFallFromMyEyes Says:

    Hey Brett. Funny I came by today – and I get this one. I totally relate. You always seem to find your way ‘home’ though. You don’t turn back, you make it out some way or other. This was great expression. I see it was about 10 days ago so I am hoping you are better now.

    I came by because it’s Australia Day here in Oz – we’ve got a public holiday, woohee 🙂 So I’ve got time to read up. I’ll see you next time…


    • Brett Myers Says:

      I certainly know how it can be with time. That’s why I’m a weekend poster.

      Really glad you dropped by. I need to come see what you’ve been up to. It has been a while… 🙂


  7. philosophermouseofthehedge Says:

    Well written – you establish the mood and panic so well. Good word choices. And that last paragraph – perfect.


  8. bexgonegeek Says:

    I’m a little lost right now too. Someone who was very close to me was murdered a month ago. I was avid diary keeper so I’ve been reading through them all and am trying to make my way back from the past we shared. But honestly, I am feeling a little stuck there right now. Like if I stop remembering and emotionally reliving it all he’s even more gone than he already is. I wish it was as simple as breathing in a paper bag.


  9. Brett Myers Says:

    I’m trying to think of a worthy enough response to that, Becca, but I got nothin’ at the moment. Except, perhaps, that I’m glad you thought to share it. That’s what makes me glad I write this stuff. Getting to meet you and maybe comparing scars, sometimes. I know how cheesy that sounds, but I’m pathetic enough that it’s true…



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