The reasons for our actions are often impenetrable to those that love us.

finding my way back

Light snow falling on a blanketed city. Taking stock and looking ahead. A solitary flute floating on the quiet wind. Telling my friends how much they mean to me. Chasing a pair of Shih Tzus, one black, one white, kicking up clouds of powder. This is my Boulder.


About a year and a half ago, I lost my way.

Looking back, we can usually point to the events that knocked us off our path, the little tragedies that begin a spiral of behavior and decisions that slowly take us further from ourselves. But getting lost is a series of choices, little moments, tiny steps, each taking us further from the trail we’ve set out to follow.

It’s not filling a suddenly empty schedule with the things we love. It’s doubting the love right in front of you. It’s staying quiet when your heart wants you to speak. It’s turning away from the obvious causes of your unhappiness in the hopes that they’ll resolve on their own.

Once we’ve lost sight of the path, even our good decisions sometimes lead us further astray, with evening settling in and the snow covering our footprints behind us. We grasp at the things we love and think we need in our lives. We look around and the woods we could have navigated blindfolded seem strange and unknown.

Getting lost isn’t about making the wrong choices. It’s about making the best choices we can and still circling, zig-zagging, deeper and deeper into the spaces and the places that scare us.

It’s about waking up and wandering about with unkempt hair. It’s about closing off from friends. It’s about forgetting the lessons we’ve learned.

Getting lost is a thousand little missteps that lead us nowhere slowly.

No matter how far we stray from the path that’s best for ourselves, we are still, however, only ourselves. Maybe with a moustache. Maybe without a care for what clothes we put on. Maybe with an inability to pay attention to the important details. Maybe we blame ourselves for everything terrible that’s happened. Maybe we fall in love with people who are at once amazing and destructive.

The reasons for our actions are often impenetrable to those that love us. Counterintuitive. A bit crazy perhaps. We’re just lost and adrift, trying to find the groove again.

We’re ourselves even in crisis, and we learn so much about who we are in the opaque wilderness, beset by strange sounds and dangers seen and unseen. We react, but if we watch ourselves, if we pay attention, we see little gems of wisdom glinting in the snow.

And then the turning point, when it comes – it comes sometimes in the guise of disaster, sometimes a lucky break – but they are the same thing: a moment of clarity brought on by persistence, by perseverance, by remaining true to who we are. And if we see the hint of turning, if we follow the arrow pointing us back, we begin the journey home. We begin finding our way back.

Finding my way back is about shaving off a mustache. Getting a hairstyle that really looks good on me. Looking inward for a while and getting my head on straight. Fixing my camera. Focusing on getting the very basics solid. Telling friends how much I love them. Listening to sounds of a quiet, snow-covered city. Making scary choices. Feeling grateful.

It’s about buying new socks. Sending baskets of goodies to my lover. Writing lists of what I’ve done and what I want to do. Sharing beautiful moments with beautiful friends. Forgiving. Remembering. Rejoicing.

It’s about playing and flirting. It’s about mending. It’s about writing and not writing. Taking pictures. Reinventing the self. Reaching out. Reaching in. Smiling. Catching a friend’s hand as you pass each other in a crowded club, squeezing it just to let her know you’re there. A kiss at a party. Patience.

It’s about stopping and looking around until the unfamiliar faces of the trees around you regain their warmth and familiarity. It’s about choice after choice of forgiving and loving yourself, the people around you, your world, until the alien landscape that threatened to swallow you up once more spreads out before you like a backyard you’ve played in for years.

About a year and a half ago, I lost my way. But now, I’ve found my way back.

Mila (Jacob Stetser)

Mila is a writer, photographer, poet & technologist.

He shares here his thoughts on Buddhism, living compassionately, social media, building community,
& anything else that interests him.

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  1. jake β€” this is so lovely. what is the magic of the 1.5 year timeline? (I feel this too). and having just come off of a conversation with a boy who sounds a little like the lost beginnings after his ending, this essay really hit home the importance of unimposed timelines to finding the way back. that the way eventually finds you – if you ’re paying attention. (or something like that.)

    anyway. great piece. ;)