The Art Of Getting Lost
It's not so easy, getting lost, especially since there's always a GPS in your pocket. Nowadays we're constantly plugged in and plotable... but there's something to be said for this concept of finding yourself somewhere, at least partially unplanned, and brimming with potential. And it is in these moments - ones where you allow yourself to be free from plans, schedules, and exact known locations - that the purest forms of discovery take place.
You see, getting lost is a mindset, not necessarily an act of being physically unaware of your location. In a time where asking Google©, "where am I?" is a feasible mode of discovery, it's rare to have no idea where you are. However, it is possible, and easily so, to allow yourself the excitement of not knowing.
How to Get Lost:
1) Mess up your commute:
I drive by landmark, because street signs, and names in general, often escape me. If you ask me how I get to work, I would tell you that I take wiggly road, turn left at the bear mailbox, and then proceed onto zig-zag road. This, in and of itself, would cause most people to lose their way, but for me, its an effective system! We all have our routines.
Traveling to and from work is often when we're at our grumpiest - we woke up late, we ran out of coffee, we forgot to pay the electric bill - but sometimes, disturbing your most basic of routines can lead to the most amazing of opportunities, and moments of exploration.
I challenge you to mess up your commute!
Do you drive/walk to work?
Try turning left, instead of right. Or right, instead of left. See where you end up. Pay attention. Don't spend the whole time worrying about physically being lost - remember, that GPS app still exists - instead, take in your world. You'll be amazed at what just one turn can bring. A new restaurant, a lake you didn't know existed, a farm stand, a weirdly shaped tree, a store you've been meaning to go to. (I suggest doing this on your way home - the boss probably won't take "I was getting lost for adventure's sake" as a reasonable excuse for tardiness)
Do you take public transportation?
Try getting off one stop later, or earlier. Experience the neighborhood. Stop in to a local shop. Find a water way to walk along. Notice what you ignore through the train/bus window each day.
2) Do something unplanned:
In our world of synced Google© calendars, and iPhone© events, its difficult to imagine an unplanned activity - but in our increasingly tech-savvy universe, we've lost much of our spontaneity.
I challenge you to not plan an entire day! (and yes, I realize that its oxymoronic to plan an unplanned day, but hey, I'm working with reality here)
Wake up on a weekend, or play hooky ( FUN FACT: comes from the Dutch word hoekje, meaning "hide and seek," or from "hook it", a 14c. phrase meaning to "make off, run away") and just see your local world! Try a new cuisine! Explore a local sight! Buy tickets to something that you're not really sure what it is and just go! Part of the art of getting lost is being willing to try, and do, without overthinking.
Try talking to people. See what they recommend in terms of places to go, and eat. We rely so heavily on Pinterest©, TripAdvisor©, and Google© for our itineraries, that we all tend to end up at the same places nowadays. Find out what is lesser known. Go beyond the top rated and recommended. Pretend Zagat© doesn't exist for a day, and ask locals for their ratings instead.
Turn it off. Turn it all off. Yes, even your cell phone. No, not on airplane mode - OFF!
When I was younger, people called our house phone. If we weren't there, they left a message. There was no call waiting. There was no text messaging. No one was expected to be reachable 24/7. And the world continued on just fine.
I challenge you to unplug for as much time as is reasonable for you. An hour. Three hours. A day. Each person's circumstances make the time of this challenge vary. But chose a time frame, and commit.
My favorite way to this is to go into nature. Find a path and hike it. Get to the middle and sit. Write, or sketch, or simply contemplate. Allow yourself to be lost: in the world, in your thoughts, in the moment.
4) Eliminate Your Control:
We don't fear the dark - we fear what could be hidden in it. We don't fear where we are when lost - we fear the act of not knowing.
The art of getting lost is, at its most basic level, about losing control. It's ok to not always know every detail, about every thing, in your life - a concept I very much struggle with!
I challenge you to let someone else be in control.
Let your significant other, or your child, or your best friend chose your outfit. Go one step forward, let them chose the location of your outing and keep it a surprise. Let them chose what dish you order. Let them have control.
Allow yourself to be out of control - allow yourself to be lost.
And hey, if you're really brave, check out Pack Up + Go, a new surprise travel agency that plans your whole trip for you, and you don't know where you're going until the day of!