Lost and found in Prague

April 16th, 2013

Prague is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I’ve had the good fortune to visit several times to bring Odyssey Teams’ Helping Hands (building prosthetic hands) and Life Cycles (where you will build a bike for children) teambuilding programs. This time, I wanted to see the city by foot. I started running down the Vltava river through the city and pushed the pace expecting to turn around at four miles to log a total of eight miles. True to my other running experiences while traveling, I ‘stumbled’ upon sights and scenes I never would have otherwise experienced. This was a tempo run – trying to keep a fast, consistent pace of seven minutes per mile. As I neared the four-mile mark I began looking for a bridge to cross to the other side of the Vltava for my return. At about 4.2 miles I found a bridge, crossed over and began running again. My pace was fast and consistent and I was enjoying the view but ready to be done with the 8 miles holding such a pace. At seven miles, I began to realize that I did not recognize any of the same sights I had seen running down the river. I should have. At 8 miles, it became obvious that I was definitely not back where I had started. I was confused. To make it more confusing, for the first time since I crossed over the river, I realized I was still running downstream. I was completely baffled and somewhat concerned with the possibility of being eight miles from where I had started with dinner plans in forty minutes. I pulled out my phone and looked at the GPS map and noticed that I was, in fact on the same side of the river as when I started – 8.2 miles DOWNSTREAM.

Perhaps you are smarter than I was in my anaerobic, oxygen hungry state to know the answer to my being lost on the same side of the river EVEN though I had crossed over “it”. As I zoomed into the map and followed the river downstream, I saw that the river had another river or channel that dumped into the Vltava exactly at 4.2 miles. At this same point the Vltava made a soft seventy-degree turn back the other direction to further deceive me. Imagine a Y-shape. I crossed over at the point where the vertical leg of the Y (the other river/channel) dumped into the ‘V'(Vltalva River). This combination was enough to trick me for another four miles. You’d think that the downstream component would have clued me in. In fact it should have been very recognizably flowing DOWNSTREAM when I saw the world-class Kayak course with great big rapids going the same direction I was running. But I didn’t recognize it because I was simply open to being lost.
Some of the best experiences of cities and countrysides and chapters in my life have come from being lost. I eventually found another bridge half a mile back upstream and then cut across the middle of the horseshoe bend that the river made, then crossed over the river again at the 1 mile mark to follow my same track back to my hotel for a total of 12.2 glorious miles in Prague.
This ‘lost and found’ is the same effect the Helping Hands program had on the participants. They thought this was just another “teambuilding” but when they discovered that this business simulation was going to change the lives of land-mine and other amputees around the world they were thrilled to have been ‘lost’ in their expectation – And then ‘found’ to have such a change of perspective as individuals, as a global team and as an organization.
Such a joy to have been lost and found together in this beautiful city.