Lost & Found

It is an asinine fabrication to purport that a person being lost is an individual who is damaged or comes packaged with a negative label. Why must the mere state of being lost have to culminate in some kind of failure? Let me tell you what: I am lost. I have vanished into the depths of my essence. In fact, I am incredibly off course in the midst of my paramount zenith. And – if we’re shootin’ straight – I don’t need to be found.

By conventional means, being lost is the main ingredient in the recipe for defeat. Humans are clinically calibrated to believe that if we are “adrift” in life, we are flummoxed and unable to find our way instead of tasting the differing flavors of life. These radioactive designs of accepted wisdom don’t have to be the veracity of our existence. For this guy, being lost is just the pearly white enamel on a sound frame of mind.

We have entered 2014. The numbers represent something that was always on display, but not quite genial to the idea of advent. Personally, it personifies the end of a certain episode of this life, and salutes towards another; it embodies the start of my final semester as a teacher and the home stretch of this Peace Corps service. Boiling inside of me is this insatiable appetite to understand how the world works, to itemize every relationship and to decipher each link to a situation’s upshot. However, in the past two years, I’ve been unhurriedly walking down cobblestone streets in alien cities, I’ve been artlessly gawking out the windows of poorly constructed Moldovan buses and at times I’ve been coercing myself to concentrate on the undemanding and supple breeze hitting my face on a perfect day. These are the times I mislay myself in my undirected thoughts.

My mental verbosity doesn’t stop there. Under the destitute tutelage, I’ve grown to love the aimless days and impromptu largesse. The language I speak at work is no longer foreign and I’ve grown accustomed to the culture and traditions. Surprises that come with living abroad are sporadic these days. Completing the same tasks (such as daily health lessons) and reaping the same benefits (International traveling) can become hackneyed, if one lets them. Yet it seems that rarity can produce accolade and gratitude. The things we stumble upon without looking for them are almost always the ones that permanently etch themselves in our mind’s sandbox. My lessons, for instance: The aim is to talk about healthy weight loss but we miss a step and somehow arrive at media’s effect on our choices. I marvel in my students’ responses. I’m lost in their voices that seemed to have arrived over the last twenty months, their desire to grow and produce an impact. Another example is illustrated by my travels. Instead of being enthralled by the landmarks and matchless scenes, I choose to adopt the eclectic tone of the bustling city, the unknown culture. I tend to forget about the predetermined timetable and focus on appreciating the taxi drivers’ attempt at an English conversation, not be annoyed by his/her insistence on interaction.

There is a reason my family deems me as effusive, my friends stamp me as crazy. The same reason is why the first impressions I churn out manufacture ubiquitous confusion. The tenacity I hold to possess some kind of control over destiny must be restrained. In every sense of the truism, I bypass the most arresting feature of a person or a place, and open a portal that can discharge far too much manifestation. I will never go the intended route, nor will I take away the anticipated message. I may never erase the memory drafted as I sat on the plane on the Marrakech runway. Mechanically figuring out my next move after departing Morocco, my thoughts froze over as my eyes fixated out the window and on the kids sitting on a dirt mound just over the fence at the tail end of the landing strip. Rotating their hips and calculating their ignition, the children were gearing up to run next to the plane as it screamed down the strip for departure; Their smiles gigantic. These emissaries of aspiration, very much like the tri-lingual transportation conductors, separate themselves of their world’s threatening uncertainties, and offer consent to their poignant realities by locating the exuberance available to them.

Seemingly benign in comparison, I look to compartmentalize my own ethics. I would have never imagined that soon I could be starting grad school or working my way into the field of International Development. In my autobiography, I’ve skimmed some chapters and skipped past others altogether. I’m writing these egregious installments as I go. Already swollen with demur, I look to deflect accusation of being “lost” and with an imperious smirk and vanquish that delineate the border between lost and found.

We harbor illusions of a virtuous destination, of some future self-portrait complete with the people and places we hope to be surrounding us. We will get there, because that is the person we aim to be, no matter how lost we get along the journey. So, in this New Year – Let’s lose ourselves in the delectable tang of the food we eat, not the repute coupled with the restaurant. Let’s not need to find comfort in the fashion brand we boast, but take solace in feeling comfortable in our own skin and content with our choice of purchase. Let’s revel in the efforts put forth by others, quelling the focus on their possible limitation. Let’s permit ourselves to lose our bearings in the face of something dazzling, beyond doubt – even if it breaks loose of encoded route. I, myself, am still lost on those cobblestone avenues around Europe, in those clamorous conversations with my students, and in the ongoing global and personal development around me. I, myself, don’t need to be found.

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Hayley in Cambodia

"Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." -H. Thurman

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