Lost, now Found


A shelter in the woods near our house on Vancouver Island

I got lost in the woods.

On my way to and from work I trek through the woods to catch my bus.

The shortcut offers a view of the cedars and firs, and a variety of mushrooms I’ve rarely seen: brown, purple, black and a deathly white.

I jumped off the bus early to wander through the forest and lost my way.

Problem is, I plugged into a new audiobook on the bus-ride, and was still listening as I wandered home.

The award-winning Lincoln in the Bardo introduces readers to a crew of ghosts caught in the liminal space between heaven and hell: the bardo (a Tibetan term).

The chapter I was listening to follows the ghost of Lincoln’s 11-year-old son, the beloved Willie, as he enters the bardo.

Willie died in 1862 of typhoid fever: three years before his father’s death at the hands of John Wilkes Booth.

While I was entranced by the story I got caught in my own purgatory.

The path disappeared.

Ahead I found a hand-hewn wooden shelter built from tree limbs and held together by twine.

Candy-wrappers circled the shelter.

I put away my earphones and climbed up a hill for a better view, then retraced my steps.

I was walking in circles.

A light rain began as the sun lowered, and I reached for my mobile phone to call my husband and ask for directions.

I could hear his voice only slightly and hung up, angry, and then realized that the earphones were still plugged in, which reduced the sound.

Earphones unplugged, I could hear clearly.

He asked me to set-up the phone so he could track my movements, and soon found me in the woods: close to where I had begun my trek.

Irony struck when I considered how a electronic device prevented my safe sojourn home, yet allowed my husband to find me.

I never felt frightened or endangered.

But I appreciate the reminder to avoid multi-tasking: something that I urge my students to do.

I’m taking my own advice to heart.


15 November 2019

Vancouver Island

Photo by the author
















About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
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2 Responses to Lost, now Found

  1. Glad you found your husband and a way home! This story is such a great metaphor! Organizing the house, and our lives, seems like the bardo and going around in circles.


  2. I agree completely: Thanks!


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