Getting Lost on Purpose
March 16, 2018
One on my best memories of being with my grandparents is sitting on the huge couch that was the backseat of their Buick as we went out for a Sunday drive. They had a compass on the dashboard that floated in a thick liquid so it bobbed and turned as we made our way off the highway and onto back country roads. We would start with north and then begin heading to the lakes with a turn to the west. But that was as precise as their plan would be.
It wasn’t an aimless trip. In fact, the purpose was to get lost so we could find something interesting or beautiful or just plain new. I recall the detour that took us to a field that stretched for miles filled with sunflowers facing upward toward the sun. The sudden surprise and beauty made us stop the car. Another time it ended with dinner in a restaurant on the shores of a lake with the cottages across the water lined up like a child’s paint box with blue next to the red then the yellow and green.
With the ubiquitous presence of GPS now in our cars and on our phones, it seems that no one takes a Sunday drive anymore or gets lost on their journey. We look to get from point A to point B as quickly and as bother-free as possible. Take me around the construction, avoid the detour, just get me there, thank you very much, with a disembodied voice telling us when to turn. You can be so disconnected from the process that you can talk on phone, listen to music, get lost in your thoughts, never notice what road you are on or what part of town and still end up at your destination.
I believe that we need to get pull the plug on that and go out and get lost on purpose. At least get off our well-worn paths and take a new route once in a while. Imagine if you drove the same way to work each day, walked the same route with the dog or did the same actions each time you walked in the door. Wait, most of us do that. How much we are missing by not opening ourselves up to the new and undiscovered.
Next time you head off to go to a nearby town or new neighborhood for a meeting, appointment or to run errands, go a different way. It may take longer to get there but that’s okay. The race is not always won by the fastest. Notice the change in the season, open your window to smell the air, stop for a cup of coffee at the diner you just discovered, pull over to admire the view. It’s true that not all who wander are lost. I believe that it is the best way to find ourselves.