Friday, May 27, 2016

The Philosophy of Getting Lost

I love adventure. That feeling of getting in Malachi, my car, and setting off to locate a new place of wonder is beyond compare. When I was in college in Washington DC, I used to ride the Metro all around and do what I lovingly call "getting lost". To me, that was how I learned a city - get lost and find my way back to my starting point. Whenever I did that, I would always locate some new spot to visit again as well as a site for new adventures. Author, historian, and activist Rebecca Solnit expresses the same kind of desire in her book, A Field Guide for Getting Lost. The book is comprised of several narratives regarding her life and the ways in which we as humans can seek the Unknown by getting lost. Not so much lost like, "I have no frakkin' clue where I am!", but rather of becoming lost within ourselves and the world around us, allowing ourselves to be vulnerable in a good way. The Unknown is within us all, yet we spend too much time worrying about our phones, our latest fashion trends, or what someone said on Facebook. Yes, I worry about those things as well sometimes, yet like Solnit, I like to pull away from that which is known to me and search for the Unknown and perhaps a breath of fresh air away from the noise.

(Yves Klein - Leap Into the Void - taken from  Smithsonian Magazine)

Solnit speaks to us in the form of narratives, as I stated before: from the colour blue in the distance and its source, to tracing family through questionable stories and muddied history, to people and their connections with each other like arrowheads, to artist Yves Klein and his search into the Void, to Rosicrucians and their beliefs, to what makes a home a home. Each narrative is an aspect of her life and her accounts and each lends to the questions, "What exactly is the Unknown?" and "How do we go about looking for it if we don't know what it is?" What form does it take, if any? Are we even supposed to go searching for it? Is it better to just remain in the routine of it, or perhaps we truly are meant for bigger and greater things? Solnit thinks so, for if not then why? As I saw on Facebook once - "I'm not here to just pay bills and then die." Not at all. Solnit tells us that yes, the Unknown is there, ready to be embraced by us and to take it fully on. The blue of distance is always out of reach, and yet it shows us that nothing is impossible. The blue reminds us to never stop wondering, never stop dreaming, for as long as the blue is there, there is always a chance for something more.

This is a book that needs to be read once a year as a reminder when things turn murky. We need to be reminded to truly stop and stare at what is around us. Perhaps not all who wander are lost, yet I think they're having more fun. Thank you, Ms. Solnit, for reminding me to get lost.


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