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The Art of Getting Lost

I can’t remember the last time I made New Year’s resolutions. Frankly, the to-dos were always the same and my enthusiasm for the work (lose weight – a perennial list topper) usually waned by February. This year, however, I’ve decided to commit to one action – GETTING LOST.


One of my favorite reads on the pleasures and terrors of getting lost is Rebecca Solnit’s A Field Guide to Getting Lost. Can’t help but laugh at the irony of that title! But Solnit makes a compelling argument for all the ways one can get lost, noting that when one does so “the world becomes bigger than your knowing of it.”


Makes sense, right? If we travel the same road whether literally, metaphorically, metaphysically or, in my case, artistically (which is ALL those other things), there is nothing new to discover. Of course, the flip side is the fear that comes with going afield, far from what we know and, frankly, what others know and expect of us.

Sketchbook ramble / Deb Baker Hall, 2020

Right about now, travel buddies and family are laughing at my declaration to “get lost”. They’ve all heard, to their own terror, my usual admonishment, “Don’t worry! I’ve been lost here before.” The truth is, I’ve always loved a good ramble, getting a little lost then figuring my way back. At a very deep level, doing so reinforces my belief in myself to get found.


After a year of staying close to home, in all ways, what I really desire is more than a flirtation with getting lost. To borrow a phrase from Solnit, I yearn to “be rich in loss.”


Rich in loss. What a very contrary, potentially scary concept. There are the things I never care to lose, most importantly those I love. There are the things I fear losing, like relevancy and productivity. Then there are those things, like limiting thoughts and habitual choices, I know I must lose to make any headway in creating truly authentic art and living a most authentic life.


So where's the trailhead for this unmapped territory?


For now, I'm putting ear to ground. I do a lot of self-talk, constantly noting what I notice and how I judge it. This is where I know to start -- listening more critically to that on-going dialogue, elusive in its habituation, so I can more clearly challenge my assumptions, fears, complacencies and workarounds.


I’ll update you in future blog posts on my “getting lost” adventures. Meanwhile, I would love to hear your stories about the discovery risks you’re taking. Please post your comments below!


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