Vail Valley Voices: At times, we’re all that little lost girl
Vail, CO, Colorado
I watched a little girl the other day realize she couldn’t find her mother. She had such a scared look on her face, eyes looking around frantically with tears welling up, standing lost and dejected in the middle of the coffee shop, everyone around her just talking and sipping their lattes.
The barista and I noticed her at the same time. She offered her a hot chocolate. I told her since her mom was lost she could sit with me until we found her.
You know her mom probably told her she was stepping outside to make a phone call, but my little friend was coloring intensely when I’d seen her earlier, so she probably didn’t take note that she was even gone. Until panic set in.
Her voice was all quivery as we chatted about how good the hot chocolate was, where she goes to school, that she was in second grade, how she only had a half day and had just gotten out for the afternoon.
Someone located her mother, they were reunited and all is right with her world again.
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The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.
But the whole incident reminded me of what it felt like to be lost as a child, that feeling deep inside of insecurity, fear, frustration, frantic desperation that grabs hold of you. That “I’m never going to see my family again!” panic, the feeling of being all alone in the big, bad world. You remember that?
Even as adults, we still get lost and amazingly, the feelings are very much the same, although we are usually able to put some rational thought into the mix and calm the panic.
I frequently get lost driving around in unfamiliar places. But I actually like to call it “touring” because it seems so much nicer than admitting that I’m lost.
Sometimes I get lost in parking structures because I swear every level looks the same, even if they do try to color code them or assign an animal to an area. I still can’t remember that I’m parked in the orange elk zone, so I wonder through the rainbow zoo of cars until I stumble upon my own.
There’s something to be said for trying to get lost, to escape, to lose yourself in a vacation. No panic there. Only good stuff.
There must be something to the whole idea of being lost. They did build the whole TV show “Lost” around the concept. Never could get into that show because, ironically, I got lost in the plot.
You sometimes hear someone referred to as a “lost soul,” someone disconnected from others, unable to find their place, aimless. It’s the lost child in adult form. Those are the extreme cases. More often than not you hear of someone just losing their sense of self.
It’s the woman with three young kids who stops working in the outside world to take on the 24/7 job of mom, wife, housewife, who tells friends across the picnic table at the neighborhood park, “I’ve completely lost myself. I’m now their mom and his wife. I’m not just me anymore. I have no identity outside of them.”
It’s the man who wakes up one morning and looks at this guy in the mirror who just turned 40, doesn’t recognize who he sees and wonders, “How did I end up here? When did I turn into the old guy?”
Life has a funny way of sometimes making you feel lost, even in familiar surroundings. And while a free hot chocolate and a kind word may not be the fix it was at age 8, it’s definitely a good start.
Linda Stamper Boyne of Edwards writes weekly for the Vail Daily. She can be contacted through email@example.com