A couple friends went on a hunting trip out-of-state, arranging to meet another of their friends who, in turn, would secure the primitive area camp site none of whom had ever been to.
Being a good distance, it was not until quite late that the supposed turn onto the somewhat obscure road began.
Since cell phone reception was non-existent in this neck of the woods, the next best semi-reliable signaling system for such a situation – a semi-improvement over smoke signals which wouldn’t have worked anyway it being after dark – was used: paper plates.
Sure enough, in the approximate area of their assumed destination, there was a directional arrow on a paper plate tacked to a tree which – the confident hunter-and-tracker duo were assured – served as an indicator of the way they should go.
There followed, discernable by flashlight at each of the many rutted road intersections, another of the several in a series of paper plates, on which was a hastily – but serviceable – wide spray-painted arrow, which the two hunters and trackers dutifully followed.
Progress, if it could be called that, was initially somewhat pleasant, especially in light of the exciting, fun-filled anticipated weekend adventure, but more and more the pavement, having long ago been left behind, had taken on what could only fairly be called a trail, not even anymore a path, given branches and brambles, logs and boulders increasingly restricted forward movement and, worse, raised forbidding doubts that something was not right.
Heightened fears in large measure were due to the unvoiced – then voiced – observation that it had been some time since they could remember having seen a paper plate.
It should have come as no surprise then that, near midnight, the road-path-trail ended.
There was nothing beyond.
Well, there was something.
A dark, dense forest of thickets: tangled, impenetrable, impassable.
And no room to negotiate.
And no more paper plates.
Perhaps the friend had run out of paper plates? There certainly were no lack of trees to tack paper plates to, but then again there was no more road-path-trail to make paper plates necessary.
It was a dead end.
In the dark.
What to do?
And how far back on this narrow road-become-trail to hell did they remember anything close to resembling a spot wide-enough to come anywhere near being able to turn around?
As a country, and as a culture, with crisis major and more major upon major having brought us to what appears to be in the darkness an inability to reverse, to retrace, to return to wherever it was we were going let alone find out where we went wrong.
In retrospect, how foolish to have relied for direction on the paper plates in the first place.
Lost is what they were.
Lost is what we are.
We have lost our way.