Lessons from being lost

Written by: Scott Allegrini

“Ideals are like the stars. We will never reach them, but like the mariners on the sea, we chart our course by them.” Carl Schurz

In late July, when I was ten years old, I went on my first camping trip.  I was camping with a group of boys and a couple of dads.  On the second night, a buddy and I went for an evening hike.  As we walked, we were surrounded by the beauty and grandeur of nature, and I realized, even at ten years old, how small we are and how much there is to explore in the world.  (If you have never been in the wilderness at night, it is must.  It helps you focus on what is important)

My friend and I walked further and further, but as we were too busy looking at the stars and the view, we walked off course and were lost.  We were so involved in exploring our surroundings in every direction, that we forgot to pay attention to where we were and where we came from.  And what’s worse, it was dark. Once we realized we were lost, and not recognizing anything, we began to panic.

First, we ran back in the direction we’d come from, or so we thought.  Finding nothing familiar, we decided that running back in the direction we THOUGHT we came from would be a the best idea.  That decision made us only more confused, so that didn’t turn our well for us.    Now even more lost, we decided to run another direction, this time thinking that eventually we would stop and it may be a good idea to yell our fool heads off in order to be found.  In hindsight, this wasn’t the best decision because somehow we ended up in the same place we started, and what’s worse is that we were tired and hoarse.  So this REALLY was not going well for us. The next thing I knew we weren’t yelling for help, we were yelling at each other, blaming one another.  He blamed me for not bringing a compass and I yelled back blaming him for not paying attention, especially since he had more experience than me. After we both calmed down, we went a different direction.  But suddenly we panicked again, and as we ran in the dark and I stepped in a hole and twisted my ankle.  This experience was ABSOLUTELY not going well, but it likely couldn’t get any worse.

At this point I could not walk, we were scared and exhausted.  We decided to stop and rest for a bit, to stay put and literally nurse our wounds.  Once we slowed down and stopped chasing our tails, we remembered that there was a strobe light in one of our backpacks.  Really?  We got the strobe light out and within 20 minutes, we were found!  I was carried back to the campsite.  Thankfully the dads had a first aid kit with an instant cold pack that felt so good on my sprained ankle.  Once everything settled down and my buddy and I had gotten some water, the dads asked us what happened.  For the next ten minutes we recounted our story:  the panic, the pointless running, the yelling, the sprained ankle, and then the realization that we had a strobe light!  And then, in an instant, they blew our minds with one question.  They asked, “why did you not use the north star to know what direction you were going?”

Unbelievably in our panic and fear induced state of being lost, we forgot the first principle.  Find the north star, it is always there and never changes!

Most days, and certainly in recent days, it seems that our country is lost.  We have been enjoying the view, looking at all we have accomplished and all the toys that distract us.  But the next thing we know, it is dark out and we are seriously lost.

Our country needs to look back to our first principles, but instead we are acting like my buddy and I did. Our country is in a constant state of panic, and we are running around chasing the next thing that we are told is important.  We are lead around like lemmings; look over here they are taking away your guns; wait, look over here there’s pay inequality; wait, look over here there’s gay marriage; wait silly, look over here there are too many guns; wait, look over here religious liberties are being lost, etc. We are so busy chasing our tail that we never stop to rest and realize that we have a strobe light with us!

Do unto others as you would have them do to you!

This is as good a place to start as any.  We can use this as our starting point, our consistent and constant North Star.  Don’t worry about what others are doing.  Be resolved to act in the way you would want others to act.  Don’t follow those that just want to keep you busy and distracted.  Instead, look to your neighborhood, your town and be a strobe light to help others find their way in the dark or to point out the North Star. Once we are following the first principle, it won’t matter what we agree or disagree upon, or why.  The first principle, the foundation that we are all created uniquely and for a purpose, will guide us to walk together toward a goal for good, not blame, ridicule and hatred.  We can all stand for something, and value what is important to each other even if we disagree on the best path to follow, after all if we each treat each other how we would want to be treated it will absolutely, go well for us.

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