Turkish delight

Turkish delight

I spent four hours on this ferry.

I get lost. A lot.

That might not seem like a big deal to you, but as readers who followed my confessional series on the Big Five Personality Traits know, I’m highly neurotic and not particularly open to experience. That means that when I get lost, I panic.

Did I mention that I get lost a lot?

It’s the ambiguity that bothers me the most, I think. Being directionally challenged means that I lose my way often, and I hate that sinking feeling I get when I don’t know what to expect. I’ve met people who deliberately get lost — I repeat: on purpose! — just to see what they might discover. I shudder… but I’m also envious of that ability to surrender to the unknown without breaking out in a mental rash.

You can see how this little quirk of mine would sometimes be a problem when I was an expat. What is expat life, after all, but one long series of attempts to find your way in a new culture?

Scene from a Turkish ferry

View from the ferry.

It was in Istanbul that I learned to relax and submit to serendipity. We’d decided to take a ferry ride — just an ordinary ferry, not a tour boat — to explore the Bosphorus. At first, it was lovely: the gentle motion of the boat, a crisp day, wonderful scenery. But as we sailed farther away from our starting point, I started to stress. The ferry showed no signs of turning back, and the theme from Gilligan’s Island began to play in the twisted corners of my mind.

A couple of hours later, in order to stave off Mummy’s impending anxiety attack, we hopped off at a little village where nobody spoke English. We were all hungry, so we found a café and pointed randomly at various unfamiliar items on the menu. Then, tummies full, we wandered around the sleepy village until the boat arrived to take us back to Istanbul.

Sunset in Turkey

Peaceful, no?

It was twilight by the time we boarded the ferry, sore of foot and fatigued by all that fresh air. Watching the quiet beauty of the sun setting over the Bosphorus, I felt my earlier tension melt away. A deep sense of serenity gently washed over me.

It turns out that getting lost isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the world. Sometimes, in fact, it can be a tremendous gift. That day, on a Turkish ferry, I allowed myself to let go and see where the wind would take me. The wonder of it is that by losing myself, I found contentment where I wasn’t expecting it.


About Maria

I'm a Canadian repatriate, former expat spouse, mother to two TCKs (and one yellow Lab), mentor to new immigrants, writer, reader, world traveller (grounded for now). I write about expat/repat issues and am still trying to figure out my place in the world.
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7 Responses to Turkish delight

  1. Sine says:

    But you weren’t really lost, you were on a boat! I feel for you though, I also get that nervous feeling of tension when I lose my way, especially if I venture into one of the townships that have a reputation for crime, but I find my GPS very comforting. The one I have now doesn’t “recalculate” ever, it just quietly figures out the new route and displays it, emitting a sense of being completely in control at all times. As long as someone’s telling you where to go, you don’t feel lost…

    • Maria says:

      I’m sticking with “lost,” in the sense of “unable to find one’s way.” I didn’t know where I was, and I didn’t know where I was going. I find that very uncomfortable, which is why GPS is a godsend for someone like me. Sadly, my GPS (who we named Prudence, and who had a lovely British accent) had a major meltdown on the highway recently. She went into a frenzy of recalculating and seemed to be directing me up a nearby tree before she died. It was very sad, but life goes on, and I’m already looking for her replacement.

  2. amblerangel says:

    Getting lost on land is one thing- I agree with you- being on a boat- with no way off- is another….. Cheers to you for hanging in there- and beautiful pics! I’ve become completely addicted to my IPhone with the GPS – now even though it’s in Japanese, I just follow the bouncing ball to the address I’ve entered- best for walking I’ve found- not so good for driving directions however….

  3. That sounds like a wonderful experience. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  4. I definitely get that you were feeling ‘lost’. What a gorgeous sunset, so beautiful. And your children got to see that a long day doing out-of-the-ordinary things turned out great, and you survived! What a nice legacy. Well done!

  5. I feel for you. I had a habit of getting lost, too (unintentionally of course). Sometimes, I would literally drive for hours trying to find my way. I literally have been everywhere but don’t know how I got there. Often, I would tell my dad that I got lost there and he would believe me. That’s why they got a GPS–for me.

  6. Anne says:

    Hi Maria,
    I feel your pain! Like you, I am directionally-challenged. However, after more than 20 years of adventuring with my husband (who seems to have a compass built into his genetic make-up…coupled with the GPS that we also travel with, I honestly have no worries). I just go with the flow and know we’ll eventually wind up somewhere new and different. There’s never a wrong turn only new discoveries (as long as we’re not trying to make a flight and the area feels safe). Sometimes aimlessly wandering is the best route to take. Looks like your meandering found you a breathtakingly beautiful spot!
    Yours in navigational Neverland,

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