“The question then is how to get lost.
Never to get lost is not to live,
Not to know how to get lost brings you to destruction,
And somewhere in the terra incognita
In between lies a life of discovery.”
~Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost, p. 14
“I was lost in her eyes.”
“I was lost in thought.”
“I once was lost, but now…I’m still lost.”
Rebecca Solnit makes the case for being, even becoming, lost. “Leave the door open for the unknown,” she says, “the door into the dark. That’s where the most important things come from, where you yourself came from, and where you will go” (A Field Guide to Getting Lost, p. 4). I love that.
Phil Cousineau, in his wonderful book The Art of Pilgrimage, says “If we truly want to know the secret of soulful travel we need to believe that there is something sacred waiting to be discovered in virtually every journey” (p. xxiv). And Robert Jefferies, writing beautifully in The Story of My Heart, lying on the grass,
“Having drunk deeply of the heaven above, and felt the almost glorious beauty of the day, and remembering the old, old sea, which (as it seemed to me) was but just yonder at the edge, I now became lost, and absorbed into the being or existence of the universe. I felt down deep into the earth under, and high above into the sky, and farther still to the sun and stars. Still farther beyond the stars into the hollow of space, and losing thus my separateness of being came to seem like a part of the whole. Then I whispered to the earth beneath, through the grass and thyme, down into the depth of its ear, and again up to the starry space hid behind the blue of day” (p. 34).
This morning, I make the case not for becoming lost (Solnit), discovering the sacred in your journey (Cousineau), or even being lost in the moment (Jefferies), though these each are practices and dispositions, I believe, essential for a life well lived. Rather, this fine, overcast and rainy Saturday morning, I say simply that I am lost in all of these and more. Lost in thought, lost in loving relationships, lost in the present moment, lost in an infinite universe. Lost along the way.
This is difficult to describe because at the same time, perhaps as much as I have any time in my life, I feel I know exactly where I am. This is a paradox, true. Perhaps it is what the Zen masters would call a koan, except I don’t feel the need to solve some unresolved this or that.
There have been times when I thought I knew exactly where I was but feared the unknown or looking deeper into myself. So in reality I was at a loss. Empty. Afraid to step into that abyss. That ocean. Those feelings.
There have been times when I thought I was totally lost. Had no moorings, nothing to anchor the fear of the unknown. Only the pervasive fear of losing myself entirely.
Today, sitting in this paradox of the unknown and known, the world is open for exploration while at the same time my feet feel on solid ground. Perhaps it is growing older, feeling less the need to distinguish myself or to worry about “success” or “failure”, and more the richness of just being alive on this earth.
Will this “is-ness”, this settling into this path, last? I don’t know, but for now being lost while knowing exactly where I am is where I want to be.
I have been lost, unlike Daniel Boone, but have then found myself in many, but certainly not all, ways.
“I never was lost in the woods in my whole life,” said Daniel Boone, “
though once I was confused for three days.”
(as quoted in Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost, p. 13)
For more about profound living, check out http://www.profoundliving.live.