“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” Henry David Thoreau
I was having breakfast at my favorite Saturday morning hotel when I fell into a discussion with my regular 26-year-old server. Let’s call him Brady. Brady is lost, a quite common place to be at the pivotal age of 26, when one thinks he should be on the path to success and wealth.
In fact I read an unaccredited quote this morning, “We tend to measure our happiness with wealth and success instead of ideas and experiences.” That defines Brady. He serves at one of the finest restaurants in Laguna Beach, attends college, travels the world and has no idea what he wants to do in life. He feels he should already be on the path to the American Dream. Yet, he is lost.
I was in Amsterdam when the idea of becoming intentionally lost first occurred to me. I awoke one morning, stuffed my smaller backpack and headed out… to nowhere in particular. I walked outside my Airbnb, pointed in a direction completely unknown except that I was headed toward downtown, a few kilometers away, and said to myself, I think I’ll go that way!”
And off I headed into the magical world of discovery and new experiences—all while being lost. I’d walk down a street until I had a feeling to make a turn and off I went to another street of people and homes and shops. Clean clothes covered balcony rails to dry out, street people selling wares, while others sat in coffee bars chatting away.
I experienced such a feeling of freedom. I think my freedom had something to do with my lack of expectation. I was in a perfect spot to enjoy the suburb/city life. I find that expectations and goals are very often blinders to the wonderful world around us, even at home. I often fail to do this: to admire the art in my home, the furniture, the plants, reading locations, my computer, and a sneak down to my wife’s office to say a brief surprise Hello.
My unaccredited author also wrote,
“Today, the appreciation for simplicity seems to have taken a seat in the back. The idea of the newest electronic or the newest materialistic items have taken precedence over the idea of taking a walk outside or playing in the park.”
So what does all this have to do with getting lost? When you consider that one key aspect of lostness is not depending on strict expectations, then there is a sense in which you are always lost. And at the same time, always free to experience life afresh and new.
Lost… For Excitement
Still, there is nothing like being genuinely lost and not overcome with anxiety over it. I love to explore and exploring means not knowing where I am. I am, in many ways, lost. Such is the route to sublime experience and wisdom.
So try something brand new that you have never done before and find yourself lost in the process as you discover the wonder of a new experience. For instance, last year I visited the Norton Simon Museum of Art in Pasadena for the first time. Everything was new: from finding the museum to hunting down parking to navigating a museum for the very first time. Wow. What a great day. Lost and loving it.
Wanna Find Your Way?
Get Lost First
Photo courtesy of the.epic.man at istockphoto