The Art of Getting Lost |

The Art of Getting Lost

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17 March 2011

In these days of modern technology, getting lost seems to be a lot harder than one would expect. Less than twenty years ago, you had to be careful when exploring unfamiliar grounds because before you knew it you didn’t have a single clue on how to get back.
But those days are gone.
Cell phones, GPS systems, notebooks, internet cafés and the wide spread of the English language have made it fairly impossible to get completely lost. An important consequence of this is that mankind will loose a series of skill which appear to be considered completely useless by now.
But are they really?
The arts of reading a compass, of tracking, of navigating based on the location of the sun and the moon and the strategic scatter of bread crumbs will soon be forgotten.

Unless we do something about it.
Herewith I invite you to join the Get Lost club, trying to engage others to rediscover the art of getting lost.

The annoyance
Many people believe that getting lost is awfully annoying. And in a way they are right, when you look at things in the context of a non-believer.
If someone needs to have breakfast at 7, wash the kids at 7:15, get in the car by 7:30, drop little Billy off at Grandma’s at 7:45 and Emma at kindergarten at 7:55 to get at work by 8:05 (only 5 minutes late, which is still acceptable, they hope) it is indeed very annoying if something goes wrong along the way.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.
If everyone would take the possibility of getting lost into account, life would be a lot better. No more hurrying, no more GPS, no more looking at Google maps where the new entrance to the train station is. Just get to the station 20 minutes early, take a look around, discover the new entrance by yourself and still have time left to enjoy a coffee.

Quote of today: “The best way to get rid of stress is by incalculating the chance of getting lost” ~ Nicolas De Corte

I don’t have any stress, why would I want to get lost?
To me, the most remarkable experiences occur when I’m doing something that was not on the itinerary, and many travelers agree with that.
Having a chat with a local on a bench near the river, ending up with the most delightful diner you’ve had in quite some time at the guy’s mother’s place.
Getting your hung-over ass on the wrong bus that appeared to go to an unknown paradise where they have invented the ultimate cure against hangovers.
Having wild sex with someone you’ve just met, waking up with a very painful but easily cured disease and meeting the woman or man of your life in the local hospital.
These things did not happen to me, I just made them up.

It’s all about discovery, doing things you weren’t initially supposed to. The same thing counts for getting lost, it’s the ideal way of finding hidden treasures, far off places, authentic restaurants, local bars or the red light district.

Who can get lost?
Everybody has the ability to get lost, but some will have to search deep within.
Women appear to be much better students than men. The Y-chromosome is essential for navigation, that is why women cannot read maps and have the ability of getting lost even when the GPS system is turned on.
Of course we all know that this isn’t true, but I couldn’t resist tackling this cliche.

Most important is to loose your congenital sense of control and reactivate your sense for discovery.
You don’t need to be home before diner, screw it, you don’t need to be home at all.
And remember, if Columbus didn’t get lost, it could have taken ages before America got discovered - and the native Americans would have had a much better future, but that’s another story.

How to get lost
Some can get lost within minutes, but they are either the real adventurers, or just plain stupid. For the others there are a couple of steps you can take:

1. Get lost inside your head: Sit down on the couch or on the floor, close your eyes and start thinking about something, anything. Stay like that for at least fifteen minutes. This may look like meditation - it may as well be meditation, what do I know - but the purpose is to look where your thoughts ended up. Probably it has nothing to do with what you were initially thinking. Step one completed, you just got lost inside your own head and you may have  already discovered some new thoughts.

2. Get lost in your neighbourhood: Step outside your door and follow this pattern: left - left - right - left - left - right - left … You could also follow another pattern if you like but research has shown that right handed people will mostly take a right when they have the choice. Taking more lefts may make you feel a little uncomfortable, but that’s a feeling you need to get used to.
If you’re left handed, try taking more rights.

3. Leave the highways: Try to get from place A to B without taking any highways. Don’t use a map or GPS system, just trust on your senses. As your senses are not trained to this, you’ll get awfully lost. Which is the purpose of this exercise.

4. Get totally lost: The time has come to get out and discover. Take a week off and go. Without maps, compasses or any electrical device. Try to use different kinds of transportation, trains for the beginners and boats for the experts.

Note: I cannot be held responsible for accidents that happened during or after these exercises.

Have you gotten lost? Did you like it?

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