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
Photo by the author