How to Be Lost in a Good Way

A couple of days ago, my instructor explained how we’d be doing things differently “because of Covid.”

“Ah, ‘because of Covid’,” I said. “The crappiest words in the English language.”

“Are they really, though?” another student asked. “I could think of worst things we could say.”

She was right, of course. Words are just words until we put meaning behind them. I had chosen to make that phrase the worst it could be, and my peer had chosen to strip away some of its power.

That got me thinking about some of the words I’ve been using to describe my creative journey in the past year . . . “lost,” “stuck,” “floundering.” These words themselves are just letters pushed together. And there’s a range within each word. A person can be hopelessly lost or just momentarily lost. She could be slightly stuck, like the cap on the maple syrup bottle after a few pours, or desperately stuck like Winnie-the-Pooh in Rabbit’s front door. She could be floundering in a thrashing sort of way or just in a fumbling kind of way.

It sucks to feel lost, unless it doesn’t. Have you ever been trying to find your way back to your hotel in a new place and taken a wrong turn down a beautiful street? As soon as you let go of your fear that you won’t find your way back, you can enjoy the scenery on your unexpected route. Fear, that’s the word behind the words in my case. That’s the word that’s held the most power.

I considered banishing those “bad” words from my vocabulary, but where’s the fun in that? I think I’d rather play with them a bit. I’m not “stuck.” I’m stuck in a state of exploration. I’m not “lost.” I’m lost in a curious frame of mind. I’m not “floundering.” I’m floundering toward a new and exciting shore.

Words, like emotions, are neither good nor bad. Even a word like “hate” has a positive side to it. If you hate something, you’re often motivated to change it. To improve it. And that could be good.

So, I’m changing my association with certain words this year. I’m not casting them aside, I’m repurposing them. I’m giving them another chance. I’m giving myself another chance. If you run into me and I still look a little lost, that’s okay. You don’t have to rescue me, but don’t wait dinner for me either. It might take me a while to reach you, but I’ll have some great travel stories to tell you when I arrive.

By Teresa R. Funke

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