being lost

to be lost is to be fully present, and to be fully present is to be capable of being in uncertainty

– Solnit, R. (2005). A Field Guide to Getting Lost. Edinburgh, Scotland: Canongate Books, p. 6

Ruthlessly stolen from Carolyn Roy without her permission (who cited Solnit in some of her own writing), but I thought it might be useful given this stage of your thinking, practicing.

One thought on “being lost”

  1. I had a great experience of being lost in Spain.

    I’d had an intense conversation before breakfast with someone bitterly challenging a decision-making process I’d facilitated: strongly held my ground that while her critiques were valid, it was the best we could manage at the time – and the intention was wholly in line with what she felt was important. Afterwards, I just wanted to walk on my own and cool down. I followed my footsteps through the garden, down steps, across a field, out of the grounds and into the woods.

    Just before that conversation, I’d been in the chapel, joining the dawn practice for the performance lab & I’d picked up a beautiful old book, which turned out to be a bible. Opening it at random, I found the first page of Job & read through till this verse

    Naked I came into the world,
    Naked shall I leave
    Jahweh giveth
    Jahweh taketh away
    Blessed be the name of Jahweh

    Now, walking in the woods, it resonated with my mood & I started singing it. I’d crossed the stream bed and started up the opposite slope: there was no real path & I was aware I needed to take care if I wanted to be able to retrace my steps – and then I decided not to take care and just keep following my feet, trusting I’d find a way home eventually.

    The group process had been very much about attachment, about letting go of investment in particular outcomes – so this willingness to get lost felt very appropriate: as did the chant. I agree with Solnit, that it did enable me to be fully present: not trying to remember where I’d been or imagine a route to a goal – just paying full attention to my experience of where I was and my instinct about where to go next in that moment.

    I knew there was some kind of high level path on the slope, but I didn’t find it & eventually my feet led me back to the streambed. I followed it a while, moved away from it, then suddenly came back & crossed it – emerging into some bamboo. I had a guess now about where I was & was able to scramble up a bramble covered bank back into known fields.

    The whole process took a couple of hours & I didn’t reach the kind of miserable lost where you just desperately want to find any kind of landmark or way through – but I could see that possibility was there & it added spice to the whole adventure. Overall, I felt I’d been able to connect to some kind of trust – in the universe, in myself – which made it possible to rejoin the group process with far less tension.


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