The Importance of Getting Lost: Wandering Without Purpose or Reason

“Getting lost was not a matter of geography so much as identity, a passionate desire, even an urgent need, to become no one and anyone, to shake off the shackles that remind you who you are, who others think you are.” 


I finished reading a book the other day, which like any good literary piece of work, stayed with me long after I had put it down. It was Rebecca Solnit’s A field guide to getting lost – a collection of non-fiction stories centered on the notion that getting lost is the only way we can ever truly find ourselves.

I won’t get into much detail about the book except to say that it is an in-depth exploration of the importance of adopting a wandering existence without putting too much pressure on the final destination. It made me think about all the beautiful people who I have crossed paths with in life and how many of them are stuck in unhappy circumstances because of this embedded fear of the unknown. Don’t get me wrong. We are all a little afraid of getting lost. After all, the connotation surrounding the word is usually a negative one as it implies that the individual is lacking a sense of overall direction in life. It is automatically assumed that those who are lost are a hindrance to the current culture of our society, which prides itself on the organizational flow that accompanies most nine to five job. For those who have had experience working within this type of environment, every day follows a particular structure or routine.

Predictability is something that has no room in the lives of those who are on a journey of getting lost. They place themselves in situations where familiarity and security are non-existent. They venture into experiences without thinking about the consequences. They come out battered and bruised but filled with life lessons that cannot be learnt any other way. Putting themselves in uncomfortable situations allows them to gain a new perspective on the people and the world around them. They begin to realise that the formula for living a happy existence is to rid oneself of all expectations. By shedding all unwanted inhibitions and just allowing the current of life to pull them whichever way it pleases, these lucky individuals have found that getting lost is really the only way to truly live.

Photo: Martinak15.

Nadja Poljo
Nadja Poljo

Hayo's editorial assistant and travel book columnist. Endlessly wandering and sharing thoughts, ideas and stories. Currently based in Vancouver but originally from Melbourne, Australia.

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