The Merits of Being Lost

You wouldn't believe what you can discover when you're lost.

You wouldn’t believe what you can discover when you’re lost.

I read a truly inspirational piece yesterday by a San Franciscan writer named Rebecca Solnit, called “Open Door.”

Solnit talked about how beautiful being lost is…how essential being lost is to finding one’s identity. She amalgamated the work and philosophies of many other thinkers before her (such as Thoreau) and produced a powerful message: To be lost, in a sense, is to live. Being lost is the state where the familiar is washed away and totally replaced by the unfamiliar. Being lost is when the ordinary ceases to exist, and mystery prevails in life.

It’s a beautiful thing, being lost. It is an opportunity to glimpse into another universe. Solnit writes that artists are always the ones who are pushing their audience into the darkness, into mystery…artists are the ones who help us to get lost.

And why should we get lost? To get lost is to discover something new. Without being lost there is no innovation. No creation. Without people sacrificing the safe and familiar in order to muddle around in new worlds, the things and ideas we have today could not possibly exist.

Being lost is more than just the physical sense of being in an unfamiliar place- it is more about the mental insecurity that results from a drastic change in environment.

If ever you are feeling down in life, give being lost a try. While you rummage around in dark tunnels you may find the light.


Photo Credit: Aey Laboratories


Filed under Adventure, Writing

22 responses to “The Merits of Being Lost

  1. I really enjoyed this. Thanks for introducing yourself. Blessings on your day.

  2. An awesome idea! I’ve never really stepped out of being lost to actually find a positive factor in it, but yes, it would cause one to hone in on the forgotten tools we use to get along in this life, whether it is navigating on the road or writing your next piece. I look forward to following and reading more of your work. Thanks for the follow!

  3. I have always been intrigued and loved the concept of being lost. I think it was when I read a Coelho…I don’t remember. But it said that to know a place well…really well…know it like a person, you cannot use a map or a guide. You have to get lost. I thought that was beautiful.

  4. Nice prose but I’d prefer to be found. I have heard “finding oneself” is a purely American notion, or an Americanized notion. Refer to the menaces of any hardcore drug addict for the profundities of being lost. It’s not so pleasurable and had better not endure past youth.

    • lectorconstans

      Good point. G.D. didn’t really define “lost”. There’s “lost” as in finding yourself on a strange street, maybe even in a strange town, and the first thing you want is a map.

      Then there’s the “lost” of the drunk or the addict: someone who’s lost their way in life. Maybe what they need, too, is a map (of a different kind). Sometimes there’s no way of getting back from that sort of “lost” – at least, not without a guide.

  5. Interesting and curious. I myself have never been lost, even for a moment. I’m always the one that know the way back or out. But personally I am a bit lost. Just as this post implies.

  6. Thank you for this. This is perfect timing for me as I am planning to get lost in Thoreau and the other Transcendentalists for a very long time to come. But maybe I shouldn’t be ‘planning’ it. Maybe I should just allow it to take me wherever it goes. I know you have visited my blog, but as a reminder, you will be able to follow my progress on this very journey here:

  7. This was a very interesting post with a fascinating idea…in truth, without knowing it, very often we are lost, so it is good to recognize the solice in not knowing so we may learn so much more.

  8. I think that’s why they call it Lost & Found. Enjoyed the essay.

  9. Beautiful, thought-provoking post, G.D.! Sometimes we are trying so hard to reach our destination that we miss the plot line of the story written in the footprints of our journey. Blink, open your mind, look no further and you’ll find. Thank you for sharing, my friend 🙂

  10. It’s the first time I’ve ever visited a site and been told to get lost before I’ve even commented.

  11. This post reminds me of a Tolkien quote: Not all who wander are lost.

  12. To be lost is to dare to take risks, and leave the comfort zone. I’ve been ‘lost’ as in dangerously depressed, but also as in taking risks in going to live abroad, etc, and this is the lostness that is conveyed in this book I believe.
    Two contrasting views: one from the world of business:

    “if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably never get there”.
    “Caminante, no hay camino. Se hace el camino al andar” (pilgrim, there is no road. one makes the road by walking it”.

  13. Wow, that was really insightful! I found it so insightful because i have been lost for quite some time, so i know what it’s like 🙂

  14. and while you were lost..your loved ones felt the need to get you back into their you bring out that hidden feel too 🙂

  15. When I was young and had free time. I would travel without a plan ending. Always had a good time and learn something new. Good to be lost for awhile to discover new things and yourself. A outstanding blog. I will research the writer.

  16. I’ll be coming back for more! Thank ou for dropping by my page, glad you cam and introduced yourself. Keep up!

  17. Respect! 🙂 Keep writing good stuff!

  18. Love this, I believe that sometimes you have to encounter the darkness to truly appreciate the light 😉 It’s the beauty of feeling lost in life, we can experience things we never thought we could of 😉

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