Most people don’t like the idea of being lost, and I’m with them when it comes to major travel concerns like sailing across the ocean or flying across the country. Yet when your feet are firmly planted on the ground, I discovered that being lost can lead to truly magical moments.
While housesitting for friends outside of Owen Sound, Ont., Mary Beth and I were exploring the depths of the surrounding winter woods when we lost our way. As we wandered deeper into the woods, we happened across a frozen bog, and it felt like finding a door to a hidden realm.
For most of the year, the place was hidden from view behind leaves and thickets. Mosquitoes swarmed its borders to guard against intruders, and the pools and muck of the bog itself were a treacherous moat against all but the most brave and foolish. Yet in the cold of a late February afternoon, the bog appeared almost vulnerable without its concealing cloak of leaves. Without its sentinel mosquitoes, the bog seemed to be surrendering itself, however briefly. And as we stepped across frozen ground, it felt like brief permission to approach the vulnerable heart of the bog and glimpse its secrets.
Later, after finding our way home, it felt good to be back within the warm square walls of familiarity. Yet as I studied the photo I’d taken… as I found my eyes returning to the trees… and as a strange longing filled me… I understood that sometimes the most incredible moments can only be found by being lost.