It is still Summer. But I can smell and hear and feel the change coming. There's fog in the mornings as the colder evening air creates more moisture. Steam rises off the creek. The Bluejays are louder and more vocal, one of the first signs around my home that fall is on the way. Unusual fall fungi have begun to grow in my woods and on the trails I walk. I love getting up each morning and putting on a sweatshirt, no longer waking uncomfortably warm by the uncompromising July nights.
The change is within me too. I've been lost. Almost two years ago I lost my Jersey Girl. Now, at the end of July, I lost Boo too. No matter how much I prepare for the death of an old friend and the loss of our relationship, I am always left speechless. And so I wander the house going to the front door to open it when I hear a noise on the front porch, thinking Boo wants in. I reach for his bowl to fill it with fresh water each morning. I hear the beep of my cell phone, telling me I've got a message and I rush to end the noise, remembering that it made Boo nervous. I go internal, finding no words.
But I have been reminded recently, by a quote that came to me in an email, "Getting lost is not a waste of time."
Jersey and Boo and I got lost a lot. Well, truth be told, they were likely not as lost as I was. We got lost sometimes because we were not paying attention. We got lost sometimes on purpose.
Now I don't want to define our kind of "lost" as not knowing where we were. We had some vague notion. Generally we were lost in the Michigan woods or the Canadian bush somewhere. And we most often knew in what direction we needed to move to become less lost. But we were lost enough to feel hesitant about what to do next. Should we plunge further into our adventure (the dogs most often voted for this) or make a move to better get our bearings?
Fortunately we rarely found ourselves so lost we became immobile, not wanting to move farther into the gap between having a vague sense of where we were and not having a clue. There was always a rock or hill to climb to get a better view. There was always a stream to follow that we knew was plunging toward something larger. There was usually the sun or the moon or the stars.
Boo and Jersey were my trusted guides, not the other way around. If I allowed myself to relinquish the mental reins, give in to being out of control, they would point me in the right direction. They provided this direction not only on our walks but also when I felt lost emotionally and spiritually. They gave me the anchor of their unconditional love and a sense of purpose, even if that purpose was to simply get their dinner or stop working and take that overdue walk.
And so with the backup of my pups, with that knowing that I could get lost and Jersey and Boo would lead or even pull me through, being lost often became a good thing. It allowed me to step away from the popular opinion that advancement, improvement and progress meant knowing exactly where I was and where I was going. And so, in not simply being lost but in embracing lost, I become present and I became found. I found myself through those two wonderful friends and I will be forever grateful.
"Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves." ~Henry David Thoreau