Not all who wander are lost.

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Photo by Deglee Degi on Unsplash

When I was about 5 years old, I got lost in the woods.

It was summer, and I was in summer kindergarten camp, in a forest located about 30 kilometers (or about 25 miles) from Minsk, Belarus. The woods weren’t particularly dense, and I wondered off. For one thing, I hated kindergarten and kindergarten camp — I was bored and lonely. For another, I did not want to let my mother out of my sight. The kindergarten was located away from the main camp, and once, when she dropped me off, I began to cry and grabbed her long, white nurses’ jacket. When she tried to pull away from me, I bit down on it, and with my mother pulling, I ripped off the corner. I remember her heavy sigh, and, in the end, she still left me. I was crying, and I’m pretty sure she was close to tears herself, but for different reasons.

So, a few days into camp, when the opportunity presented itself, I walked away and into the forest. It was a bright day, the light filtering through the pine and birch trees. I walked around for a while, then laid down in a clearing, watching the tops of the trees sway in the breeze.

I never understood the fuss that happened when I was found. My mom, who led the search party, gave me a huge hug, and carried me into the medical cabin where she work, and then she proceeded to give me the spanking of a lifetime. I remember screaming and crying, and trying to get away, but my mom’s grip was vice-like. This was first time and the only time I have ever gotten spanked.

But here’s the moral to my little story. I really wasn’t actually lost. I was not panicked, scared, nervous, or worried. I simply wasn’t where I was supposed to be. As the wise people say, not all who wander are lost. I think about that incident from time to time. I always prided myself on the fact that I never lost myself. I always knew who I am, even when I was unhappy or depressed. That doesn’t mean that I like myself very much or very often. It means that I know my strengths and weaknesses, and know my triggers and foibles.

And, I suppose, there is a time to get lost and a time to get found. The main thing is to know the difference.

Written by

Writer and storyteller, immigrant, wife, mom, knitter, collector of jokes, lover of cheap, sweet wine.

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