the thing about …. getting lost

by Sharon Santoni

Do you have a fear of getting lost? I have a very poor sense of direction , I can get lost pretty much anywhere. I lose my car in car parks, I head north instead of south, I lose my way around Paris … I am ‘directionally challenged’.

For a long time I was very embarrassed by this inability to get anywhere in a straight line, but that has changed. I realised that very often when I get lost, some of the best stuff happens. Chance meetings, wonderful discoveries, doors that open unexpectedly, …

Take this week. I was in the town of Arles in the South doing some last minute tweaking of our Spring Tour itineraries. I went to Arles with a specific list of things that I needed to look into. No appointments, just a list of potentials.

Within an hour I had gone completely off track. Simply following my own nose, and getting a feel for the city. I snapped these pictures as I went. By the end of the afternoon, I had covered part of my list, (not necessarily in the most logical order) and discovered some unexpected nuggets too. By straying off plan, I met an artist we hope to work with in the future, and discovered a beautiful hotel.

And it occurs to me that this approach can sometimes be applied in life too. I know very few people whose lives have run a totally straight course. We all hit deviations, u-turns, and sometimes potholes that throw us off balance. But, providing it is nothing too major, if we manage to embrace the change of route, and welcome the unexpected opportunities that result, then it is a lot less stressful.

I’m often asked about my reinvention story, and how someone with no specific training in business or marketing or publishing, can create a company that includes all those things. Of course I have had setbacks, and I’ve strayed off track, and things don’t always go to plan. The key seems to be to worry less, think on my feet and enjoy the ride that surprise events can bring.

I know that many of you have your own tale of reinvention – a newly found passion, a new career, a move abroad …. I’d love to know how you feel about ‘getting lost’ on your journey. Does it worry you, has it caused problems, or do you only move forward once you are 100% sure of where you’re heading? Leave a comment below, and share your own experience.


Sofia Bektassiadis April 2, 2024 - 9:12 am

Directionally challenged. Love it. So am I. So bad that I even get lost in my own backyard. Loved the photos. This is how I operate most times I am in Europe. I even tell people who ask how I find all the things that I do….”just get lost and let the city reveal itself to you, you’ll be pleasantly surprised”. Having said that though one needs to be aware of where one is. If it doesnt look safe then get out as quickly as you can.

Lu April 2, 2024 - 9:39 am

I absolutely agree that “getting lost” somewhere is happening always for the certain purpose 🙂
If we get lost it is because someone new or interesting is meant to cross our path or destiny has different plan with us and we must see the place we would normaly miss… This happened to me and my family while exploring places in Provence…so i know what i am talking about.
It is so amazing to get lost …. just to stay calm, open eyes , heart and enjoy 🙂

Winsome April 2, 2024 - 5:41 pm

Directionally challenged, me too, however it creates a more interest Life journey.

Vicky from Athens April 2, 2024 - 6:18 pm

I actually have a very good sense of direction but have, on several occasions, found myself wondering where the heck am I and how on earth did I get here. Sharon, it happened to me in Arles, as well. Thank heavens I remembered how to say “I’m lost” in French and through much hand signaling managed to get back to my car. I, too, believe it happens for a reason. As Lu above says … stay calm, open your eyes and your heart and enjoy, I would add, the unexpected adventure … we hikers call that trail magic!

Melanie Prole April 2, 2024 - 6:24 pm

Yes, I am directionally challenged too. I once bought a compass, but then never used it. I like getting lost when I am just ‘site seeing’. But I hate it when I try to find my way from a train or metro station to my hotel, pulling my suitcase behind me. I am a solo traveler, so it is all on me. It is not fun when a 10 minute walk turns into a 20 minute walk in the rain or sprinkles, even with a map or gps. as an example, walking from Luxembourg metro station to a hotel on Left Bank. Approaching an intersection with multiple streets – which one to take??

karen April 2, 2024 - 6:44 pm

On a cruise several years ago, one of our ports was Sete. My friend and I (for some reason) decided to part ways for a little while and explore the town on our own. Well of course I got lost. I started panicking and looked for our cruise ship to help me navigate back. It is a beautiful town and I guess their are worse places to get lost!

Lydia Langston Bouzaid April 2, 2024 - 7:03 pm

Sharon- I laughed out load at your post. However, upon sober reflection I am officially applying to be your directional person. You can get lost at any time and when you want to find the track I can direct you. Xoxo Lydia. Ps I’ll bring Chris for back up.

Sharon Santoni April 2, 2024 - 7:29 pm

Hi Lydia, application accepted! If you can get yourself across the Atlantic single handed, I know for sure you could get me home! Love to you both xx

Melody April 2, 2024 - 7:27 pm

Right — getting lost isn’t always the worst. Once by myself, I got lost in Venice at dusk! Those little back routes…..well while charming, a bit forboding at that time of day. Fortunately I came across two handsome gondoliers in a side canal who directed me back to the hotel. Now that I think about it, it would have been better if one of them had taken me in the gondola!

Rebecca Chapman April 2, 2024 - 7:39 pm

Getting lost is another name for Serendipity. I trust in the joy and adventure of coming upon that fork in the road and taking a chance.

Mona Chipman April 2, 2024 - 8:29 pm

Google maps ? Oui. ??

Rhonda Reeves April 2, 2024 - 9:35 pm

My Mother lived much of her life squelching a sense of adventure. She used to ask me when I traveled alone in strange cities “what happens if you get lost?”. My response was “I always get found”. And so it goes even now,

Mona Louise Turner April 2, 2024 - 10:05 pm

I truly identify with this post and it made me smile, Sharon. My husband and I always, always, get lost when we travel and each time is actually the most wonderful adventure. It makes for interesting tales to tell our family and the most lovely memories of our travels.

Pam April 2, 2024 - 11:59 pm

I totally agree adventures are always fun. Yes, I lost my car in a parking lot ,and it was embarrassing because I thought I found it because it was exactly like mine haha.

Barbara Carbajal April 3, 2024 - 4:47 pm

God knows where we are at all times and somehow shows us the way or puts something/one in our path to guide us. I trust He will not let anything “bad” happen to me. I’m 81 and so far so good. b

franki Parde April 4, 2024 - 12:04 am

Count me in ladies…out of my five siblings, 4 of us are “directionally challenged”. or, “just plain lost when it comes to NSE&W…mine even involves right & left (I write w/m right hand kinda thing.) Bless the GPS inventor!!! I “think” we are all quite good looking, though…just saying… franki

Susan April 7, 2024 - 2:27 am

In a car park I can never find the car, but ask me how to get some place and I can give you several different ways to get there. My husnad will always leave the in town driving to me because I always get us there regardless of traffic. Why I can’t seem to remember where the car is park remains a mystery.

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Monica Roberts April 22, 2024 - 9:12 pm

Even whilst I’m wandering around on well known turf I’m on constant alert for a lane, path, small enclave or country road I may have somehow missed on prior treks. And, in foreign climes as well I pray for LOST … which in Scotland is, in actuality, a sign-posted place! As a photographer by trade, rarely do the already beautifully photographed, landmarked tourist locations draw my interest … but, oh how the fascination of new sights unbeknownst to me, and the beckon call of the beyonds doth my heart respond!


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