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Have you ever got lost?

If you travel you may be familiar with the experience of wanting to return to your hotel (or campsite!) and suddenly not knowing where you are. This is being literally and physically lost. There is also another kind . . .

If you are like me, you may like to work with a certain life plan. Go to high school and do well, get a degree and get a good job. But life likes throwing us curved balls; things never seem to turn out the way we expect them to. Maybe you get really sick and are not able to finish your studies that you had hoped would land you the job you wanted. Or maybe you finally get that job you always dreamt of, but after a few months you realise it’s not exactly what you thought it would be . . . And suddenly you’re lost.

There go all your perfectly structured plans. Your map for navigating life with has gone out of the window. And you might, as I have done, feel a bit like a drifter with no purpose or meaning. What a scary, uncomfortable place to be!

Being lost does not happen only once: if you are lucky, you will feel quite lost many times throughout your lifetime. As the author of A Field Guide to Getting Lost says: “Never to get lost is not to live, not to know how to get lost brings you to destruction, and somewhere in the terra incognita in between lies a life of discovery.” Could it actually be that it is necessary for us to get lost from time to time? And that this is something we should deliberately seek?

I found a good reason for getting lost while reading The Road Less Travelled by M. Scott Peck.

It would seem that getting lost produces the perfect opportunity for us to revise the maps we are using to navigate through life. Being lost forces us to take a hard look at the beliefs we have formed about the way the world works.

As Peck says: “The world itself is constantly changing . . . We are daily bombarded with new information as to the nature of reality . . . What happens when one has striven long and hard to develop a working view of the world, a seemingly useful, workable map, and then is confronted with new information suggesting that that view is wrong and the map needs to be largely redrawn?”

This calls for a bit of flexibility. We must be able to measure what we’ve known against what we know now and come to a better working conclusion. This might be very hard for some of us to do. Most of us would prefer to stick with what we know and what is safe. But this is where the beauty lies because we always have a choice. Either we can go back to how things were, no matter how destructive that may be. Or we could choose to adapt and grow . . .

Practise getting lost more often . . .

  • Use weekends to explore the country you are living in. Decide on the amount of petrol you are willing to use and turn back when you’ve used half of it. And just drive. Go where the road takes you.
  • Do new things like learning a new language. You may feel highly incompetent at the beginning. Don’t fear it – embrace it.
  • Actively seek out people that think differently from you. Instead of forcing your point of view, try to really listen and understand where they are coming from.

[Image credit: Royalty free stock photo from 123RF.com]

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