Lost on Purpose


Dallas TrafficHaving been born with a built-in compass, my husband simply cannot fathom why I get lost so easily. It exasperates him!

Before I drive someplace new, he tries to tell me how to get there. When he says things like, “Look for a Texaco and you’re going to turn right before you get there,” I ask, “Am I going to turn right?” When he says, “Stay in the right lane as soon as it turns into three lanes,” I ask if I’m going to be in the right lane or do I need to move over to get there?” Then we’re both exasperated.

“How many times have you been there?” he asks in a testy voice. I explain that he was driving all those times and I was not paying attention.

I can pretty much count on turning left when I should have turned right, going east when I wanted west and giving up about two blocks before I reach my destination. I am so glad Texas allows u-turns.

This week I had to drive myself to church. I’ve driven it before: Boca Raton Boulevard to East Loop 820 to John T. White Road and turn at the big sign. It is only three miles. I come back the same way.

But this time Dan drove his own car so he could leave early. I followed him around the block into an unfamiliar parking lot. When I came out, I didn’t know how to get to John T. White. I turned right.

When I reached the corner and everything looked strange, I realized I should have turned left. I kept following my nose until I found Eastchase Parkway, where I’ve been before. I turned left and found Wal-Mart. Ah! Now I knew the way home because that store backs up to John T. White Road.

I now know where the church is in relation to the rest of my world: the shopping mall, the freeway, the grocery store. I won’t get lost anymore but I had to get lost to discover all that.
Sometimes I think I know the way but I use my GPS to make sure. Sometimes I leave it in the back seat and only plug it in after I get lost. It is a bit like getting lost on purpose. It helps me figure out where I am.

I am thinking of the ways my life has been like getting lost. A person does the wrong thing, which leads to much difficulty but that’s how people learn stuff. As long as someone else does the driving for us, we don’t learn much about decision making or consequences or how to avoid hardship.

Listening to advice and heeding it is a bit like listening to my husband’s driving directions. It just doesn’t make sense until you’ve been there and been in the driver’s seat.
I wish my kids and grandkids would listen to me. Because of my life experience, I could save them all sorts of heartache. I could save them money and help them make money, win friends and influence people. If they’d only ask, I am full of wisdom and counsel beyond price.

Maybe I should be satisfied if they just keep me in the backseat, just in case they get lost…on purpose.

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About janets123

Children's writer, newspaper columnist, essayist, poet, storyteller
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3 Responses to Lost on Purpose

  1. Lisa says:

    I love this one. It really hit home, especially this week. I just had similar thoughts about this issue for my daughter. If only she would heed my advice and not have to get lost to understand what I was trying to tell her. Love you Janet.

    • janets123 says:

      Having raised a few teenagers, I think I am less pushy about sharing with g’kids. I’m still learning, too! Glad if this simple writing is an encouragement to you.

  2. Best they learn from their own mistakes, no better teacher than a hard knock or two. great take on getting lost, lessons learned, and new found direction. Good show darlin!

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