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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Lost and found

<ve an abominable sense of direction. It’s one of those things that could be an endearing flaw, but it’s actually quite mortifying, not to mention frustrating. It means that when traveling, I leave an hour before the average departure time to offset the inevitable wrong turn I will take. It also means that if I’m responsible for driving a carful of people, I must apologize profusely even before seatbelts are buckled. Usually with practice, I improve at things. But instead of becoming a better orienteer, in this case I have become exponentially more proficient at getting lost. This winter, I’ll be thinking and writing about my experiences becoming unfathomably lost, and the process of eventually becoming found.

The curse begins with my mother who is, among other things, a “map person.” As a result, during my very rebellious teens I became emphatically not a map person. Instead, I developed a range of innovative navigation techniques which include, but are not limited to, the following: backtracking like a champ, fervently distrusting my intuition, and exclusively dating Eagle scouts. For each of these map alternatives, I have armfuls of stories.

I chose to write about “getting lost” for its excellent versatility: getting lost stories share an identical climax, yet no two stories unfold identically; that is, while listening to a getting lost story you know exactly what is coming, but the suspense lies in not knowing exactly how it will occur. What’s more, no two tellings of any one “I was lost” story are the same due to the seductive potential for wild hyperbole surrounding the climax. Finally, there is a guaranteed happy ending. To be “lost” suggests the potential to be “found.” No matter how tragically, triumphantly, lost the storyteller may have been, that she is here to tell the story provides consolation and hope for stressed out listeners.

Additionally, exquisite metaphors rest in the palms of getting lost stories, especially for us liberal arts students. If our destination is a ten page paper, the end of the term, or graduation day, we are guaranteed to take a handful of heinously wrong turns along the way. And while floundering in a state of utter lostness, we learn precious (non metaphorical) lessons about the process of becoming found. 

Though I have a rich archive of my own getting lost stories, I’d also like to invite you to submit your own. Or, if you’re a very busy Carleton student who has more than enough writing to do already, tell me your story and I will write it down and then it will be published in this newspaper. Send me an email, and this space is yours to tell the Carleton bubble your very best getting lost story.

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