In these strange times, when the old rules and ways are breaking up around you, then letting go of old certainties and assumptions may be one of the most important and liberating things you can do. To do this, you will need to embrace the sense of being lost reasonably regularly!
Being lost is about not knowing where you are and not knowing where to go next. Or both. Being lost is not knowing what is essential, what matters, what is expected. It is when' they' are not around to help. It is not knowing what a reasonable goal might be.
This can be disturbing.
Our childhood fears of wolves in the wood, sleeping dragons, or being alone in the wilderness make being lost troubling. It brings out the vulnerable boy or girl within us, instinctively reaching up an arm to take a parent's hand.
But being lost is also a problem to solve, a land to be discovered, the key to the prison cell, the place you finally meet yourself.
To be afraid of getting lost is to be afraid of living.
I have had the immense privilege of being remarkably lost in the Atlas Mountains, the Sahara Desert, Tsim Tsa Chui in Kowloon, New Mexico, the back streets of Athens, Germany (where I accidentally ended up in Poland), and Nashville - nobody told me there were two Nashvilles in the USA.
I have also been more psychologically lost – when I left university without a clue of what to do with my life. When, as a teacher, I ran out of the love for the job, When I was recruited to a role in an organisation which the Finance Director informed me on day one didn't exist and hadn't been agreed. Or when my business collapsed around my ears. All of which unexpectedly led me to quite wonderful discoveries.
As you enter the 'borderlands' between the assumptions and expectations of the old world and the potential of a place where nothing makes sense, a kind of psychological wilderness, embracing the feeling of being lost and then liberating yourself, may turn out to be one of the significant challenges of your life.
I mean this literally and figuratively. Getting lost awakens you more than anything else to the situation you are in and the way you are dealing with it – that feeling of being out of your depth, disoriented, and on your own. The first thing you meet when you get lost is yourself: your emotions, your abilities, or lack of them, your judgments about the situation.
I travel chaotically. The secrets of the competent wanderer are lost on me. Considering the farrago of misunderstood directions, impossible transport connections, and incipient disaster I bring to the endeavour, the fact that I invariably get to my destination is most often due to the kindness of strangers rather than navigational talent.
I speak, therefore, as one who knows.
Choosing to be lost is not so hard. It is letting a chance rather than a map guide your way. It is about doing something unfamiliar to you. It is doing something you have perhaps dismissed, something you were not capable of or of which not all others would approve.
Getting lost is about putting yourself undoubtedly in your discomfort zone.
The great joy about getting properly lost is you never quite get home again. For the act of adapting to the challenge changes you forever.
Think of your first day at school or in a new job. How lost were you? But you could not find your way back to where you had come from even if you wanted to.
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