To celebrate the release of my novel, my friends and I took a trip up to a cabin in Tennessee last
weekend. Precisely seven days ago, I was wandering through the pumpkins and festive lights at
Dollywood, running around Gatlinburg, sipping on coffee, and sitting in the sun on our back
porch of the cabin.
This trip was easily the most fun I’ve had in months, and it couldn’t have been a better
time to explore––the leaves were vibrant, the weather nice and crisp. It was all fun and games
until I got lost at Dollywood. There were nine of us, and they all wanted to catch one last
rollercoaster before the park closed in twenty minutes.
They started running. I ran along with them, drifting between the boys and girls. The
guys rounded the corner, my feet barely keeping up––I was rather heavy in my flannel. In the
frenzy of cold air and blowing hair, I turned around and found the girls were nowhere in sight
behind me. The boys were rounding the corner, I was slowing to a stop, and finally, there I
stood all alone in the middle of Dollywood.
I suppose I was lucky that the first time I’d been lost and alone in a theme park was at
the ripe age of 23, so I wasn’t alarmed. Instead of frantically texting my friends like I had
experienced the urge to, I strolled through the Halloween themed paths and finally came to my
senses––the park was closing, people were flooding toward the same direction I was, and I had
no idea where to go.
Short story long, I found my group standing in line at a bakery near the entrance of
Dollywood. All was well. I was fine.
But, dearest readers, there is an immense amount of joy in being lost and alone. (Yes, I
know what I just said). The past three weeks can be defined in one single word: Chaotic.
Between working full-time, my book release, planning signings and launch party details, I’ve
barely had time to shower. But getting lost? Getting lost was very okay. Time and random
circumstances forced me to be alone with myself. Instead of thinking, “How will I get out of
here?” I was thinking, “How peaceful is THIS?” I was lost wandering through leaves and
pumpkins, purple lights in the home of Dolly Parton.
No matter the circumstance, we’re always a little lost. No matter the circumstance,
though, if you look around and let yourself get lost out*side* of your head, you’re still
surrounded by leaves, lights, pumpkins, and, if you wish, Dolly Parton if you really try. My point
is that when you’re lost, you’re allowed to see the beautiful things you might be missing if
you’re running to catch a rollercoaster.
Life lesson learned from my trip to Dollywood: Get a little lost.
Cheers, to all the new getting-lost adventures.
M.M. Cochran is the author of YA novel Between the Ocean and the Stars and has an educational background in English and creative writing. She has worked in the journalism industry, as well as the agenting and publishing industry, and she is currently a news reporter for The Greer Citizen. M.M. can be found collecting coffee mugs, slipping into an oversized sweater, and hanging out with her standard poodle. Her debut novel, Between the Ocean and the Stars, can be found online at Amazon.com or Barnesandnoble.com. To keep up with her writing journey, follow her on Instagram @m.m.cochran_writer.