18: Se Perde, Si Trova

18: Se Perde, Si Trova

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Campus Chronicles

Se Perde, Si Trova

Half the fun of the travel is the esthetic of lostness.

~Ray Bradbury

As I stepped onto the deck of the boat, with the sun shining on my back, I felt my heart begin to race. I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply, breathing in the sweet scent of the Adriatic Sea. I was about to set foot in a city that has left writers, painters, and philosophers baffled for centuries. I was about to spend a month in Venice.

If I could describe Venice in one word, it would be surreal. When you initially look at it, you can’t help but pinch yourself, thinking its creators must have taken its design right out of childhood fairytales. It’s as if you are about to enter a stunning castle surrounded by a majestic moat that is the Grand Canal. I knew as soon as stepped onto my first Venetian bridge that this was going to be a life-changing experience.

There are no cars in Venice, only boats, and it is a city of tight alleyways connected by several bridges, peppered with tiny shops and restaurants. It was clear to me that finding my way around was not going to be easy. But interestingly enough, the first thing the tour guide said to us was that in order to find our way, we were going to have to get lost. “Se perde, si trova,” she would say. “If you get lost, you find yourself.” I knew for a fact that this was going to happen, but for some reason, having always been horrible with directions, I had a feeling that this time around I was not going to mind it so much.

The first week flew by, as everyone on the trip began to get settled in and figure out what they were going to need for classes. On top of that, because we were still trying to get accustomed to our new surroundings and conquer the dreadful jet lag, everyone traveled together in groups. I didn’t mind doing this, because I immediately found myself forming close friendships with several different people. We had something very significant in common; we were all trying to find our way. The second week was a little bit different, we traveled a lot more, especially to other parts of Italy, but I still hadn’t gotten my much-anticipated opportunity to walk around the city by myself. I just wanted to be able to think and take in everything on a much deeper level than I had up until that point, and I knew if I was walking around with my friends this wasn’t going to happen. Then, my last week in Venice, it did.

I had gotten out of class much earlier than usual and, coincidentally enough, had just finished reading a piece of work by George Sand, an author who spent much time in Venice trying to understand it and experience it to its fullest. One of the things she said was that all she wanted to do was walk around by herself, and this was the only way to really experience the city. I realized this was a perfect opportunity for me to do just that.

My aimless wandering around did not seem so aimless at first; it appeared I knew where I was going. But pretty soon, I was going down random alleyways unsure of where they would take me, and before I knew it, I was completely lost. I knew I’d stay lost until I found familiar landmarks — perhaps a restaurant I had visited, or a small shop.

Nervousness began to slowly consume me, because what seemed like only minutes of being lost quickly turned into what seemed like hours. And then out of nowhere I decided to take an unknown right turn. What I then came across was nothing less than what I’ve seen in Van Gogh paintings. I was in front of a railing, looking straight out into the Adriatic Sea, with what appeared to be a library on an island in the middle of it. Past the library was nothing but water.

It’s difficult to explain what I felt at this moment. I took a seat on a bench and closed my eyes for a few moments. I ran every obstacle I had been faced with since being in college through my head over and over again, especially the past year and a half. It was like I could still harness the feelings of hopelessness if I tried hard enough. It gave me shivers thinking about it. And then, there I was, staring at this vast body of water that went on for miles. I was in what has been labeled the most mysterious and beautiful city in the world. I was on another continent.

It was honestly at that moment that I realized how many opportunities are available out there, and I knew I was meant to do something significant. Whether I end up applying my talents to singing, or decide to help people, I knew at that moment that from then on I had to focus on the things that make me happy, and not others. It was then that I knew something in me had shifted, and when it was time for me to go back to school, I would feel completely different.

The rest of the trip was amazing and filled with many classic times. But nothing compared to how I felt on that specific day, when so many different things began to make sense to me. It was as if that missing neuron in my brain finally clicked. I came back to school to find myself surrounded by much of the same trivial nonsense that I had left behind.

I am not sure if everyone was as changed as I was on this trip. After having experienced that moment on the bench, it made me realize just how very lost I was for so long. And to be honest, I still don’t have all of the answers. But I guess it’s not so bad getting lost, because in the end, you’re really going to find your way. And more importantly, in the end, you’re going to find yourself.

~Annmarie Sitar

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