Have you ever walked into a room and asked yourself, “What am I doing here? Am I in the right place? Did I enter by the wrong door? Are these people from MY neighborhood? What are they all talking about? What was I supposed to wear? Why did I come here in the first place? Is this a dream? Can I slip out before someone recognizes me? Stop this whirligig, I want to get off!!”
Our self-confidence can usually get us beyond these strange feelings except on a battlefield, in a riptide drifting out to sea, on a very icy road in a blinding blizzard, or in a hospital room where the unknown diagnosis as to our health is likely to be frightening. The astronauts on Apollo 13 faced the same self-doubts, the potential panic, the screaming internal voices that cursed the prior decisions that placed them in terrifying danger.
Everybody’s sense of danger is different, though. Each one of us becomes challenged mentally when we thrust ourselves into unfamiliar surroundings or we find ourselves prohibited from dodging a previously considered “daunting” situation. I am not talking about life threatening circumstances, however. Just the everyday variety of situations where you find yourself in a strange place: in a new mall, in a different neighborhood, at a sporting event as a first-time participant, at a new class for beginners, on a road that is not on your map, on an initial journey to a foreign land, at your high school graduation, or at your first child’s birth.
Then that emotion jumps up and grabs you, and your alter ego mutters: “What are we doing here? Doesn’t he know better? How did he let himself get involved with this alarming situation? Is he crazy? If he had only listened to me!”
Yes, if we had never ventured forth, we could have avoided all this anxiety, right? Unless, somehow we got lost! Or lost our bearings along the way and feel “lost.” Or maybe our Creator forgot where He/She put us! Or for some reason put us here to punish us! Maybe we can escape without being noticed if we pray hard enough?!
Survival of these challenges depends on our having sufficient human courage or self-confidence. Disregarding dire predictions also helps, but it is not recommended because it is considered reckless. Only the conviction that we are sufficiently prepared to undertake the risks, real or imagined, enables us to set out with determination and assurance. Yes, we need the famous “can do” spirit. In the face of potential failure, rejection, expulsion, and harm to oneself, we overcome our fear and “better judgment” and run the gauntlet. Hail to the brave and courageous!
Although we can present to the outside world evidence of bravery and courage, we don’t lose our internal sense of being lost, misplaced, and unfit for the social environment we find ourselves in. Those who do not share this haunting feeling are either unaware of being lost or too innocent to have fear.
Can anyone truly feel that he or she is in their right place when most humans don’t understand why we are on Earth, what we are supposed to do here, and why we must struggle constantly to survive three score years and five? We might simulate an appearance of being happy with our surrounding circumstances in the comfortable lifestyle we have achieved, but can we honestly be satisfied that we have accomplished our unknown purpose as we approach the end of our brief sojourn on this seemingly hospitable planet?
Without specific orders an army cannot “move out.” Or they might get “lost” and be surrounded by the enemy. Without a map we can’t journey to some forsaken place to find a treasure that we didn’t put there. Without a purposeful reason we cannot just dash off in any direction. But we often do, and the only obvious purpose is to avoid a certain human death that overtakes all of us eventually.
So, maybe we should be here feeling anxious. Maybe we are “lost.” Maybe we tried on these human costumes to amuse ourselves, since we couldn’t figure out what else to do – just to kill time until our real lives show up. Or maybe there is no discernable purpose, and this deceptive sense of freedom allows us to do whatever our foolish and wicked hearts desire disguised in these shivering or sweating bodies. Some of us want to dance, act crazy, call attention to ourselves. Others want to hide somewhere, return to nature, find a remote desert island and languish in an exotic climate.
Whatever we do, however, doesn’t prevent us from feeling lost, abandoned here, and left to our inadequate devices. We may go out and improve our material condition, convince our children that we are pleased with our present lifestyle, and preach to others that there is some future salvation for our “souls” (whatever they are.)
But, can we shake our feelings of being lost by clouding our minds with dreams, trivia, projects, activities, and commitments in order to pass our conscious hours and exhaust our limited energy? Of course we can, and we do. Hereby, some material progress is achieved, some harmony is reached or negotiated, and some amusement is acquired. Perhaps, some additional fortitude is built up in our individual psyches to help us face that great leap forward into the eternal unknown that follows the end of human life.
It’s really anybody’s guess. But get me out of here now! The options are confusing me, the noisy conversations are distracting me, the arguments are boring me, and the aggressiveness and belligerence everywhere are terrifying me. Why weren’t we given a compass or a more detailed map? Would we recognize where we are if we had them? We’re helpless without a cosmic GPS gizmo!
I’m lost. Inexplicably lost. And in such a nice place, too! Except for the unpredictable weather, the city traffic, the mob of unfriendly strangers talking on cell phones, those annoying children and the barking dogs, and the voices in my head asking where can I find something to eat and drink, what should I put on this naked body, where should I go next, and why am I here?