Two nights ago I was lying in bed, thoroughly engrossed in a novel. As I turned the page, these words began the next chapter:
"There are several ways to react to being lost. One is to panic......Another is to abandon yourself to lostness, to allow the fact that you've misplaced yourself to change the way you experience the world." Audrey Niffenegger from "Her Fearful Symmetry"
Although I was really invested in what would happen next in this story - I found I could not read any further. I just wanted to let these words settle into me. I kept thinking of that saying - when the student is ready, the teacher appears. Earlier that day, I had just spoken with a friend that I was so very ready for a new view, some fresh breeze of energy that could have me waking up with a smile, ready for surprises.
And bam - words written on a page in a book from the library, checked out to distract me and instead assisting me in receiving that new view I so want.
Being lost - it seems to be my new mode. There's the physical lostness of a new city - frustrating but fixable - I mean, I could get a map, get a GPS, listen to the lady on my phone, drive enough that I learn the routes.
Then there is the much larger lostness of fearing that I have misplaced myself. I love that phrase because it is just so perfectly descriptive. As I look back on the last six months, reading some of the past posts, I see this has been my fear - that I have misplaced myself.
And choosing the first option, I have panicked.
My life is different - undeniably. The way I have dealt with this is to question everything - it feels as though I have been excavating my very soul. I do not deny that there are times when soul searching has been a good thing, but lately it has become more of a habit than an experience.
"Another is to abandon yourself to lostness, to allow the fact that you've misplaced yourself to change the way you experience the world." Yes - I see the sign for a detour on this route I have set for myself. I am exhausted from this travel - breaking every part of my life into pieces to be inspected, analyzed, and yes, judging my misplacement.
What would it feel like to just abandon myself to this journey, to let the experience flow around me like the stream around the rocks? How would it reshape me if I were open to experiencing the world differently?
And as so often happens in real life, the next morning I got lost. I misplaced myself, turning into a construction zone in downtown Austin that seemed to become an endless maze of detours. The words from the book rushed into me - what if I would just abandon myself to lostness?
So I did. I sat in the traffic jammed to a stop and looked around. I saw places I had never noticed. A flower shop caught my eye with the sign "Happy Hour - from 5-6 PM each weekday, Flowers are 1/2 price". How totally cool is that?
I saw a frozen custard stand (almost pulled out of traffic for this one) and a really cute house with a purple door that matched the purple flowers surrounding it. I saw a man in a wheelchair walking his dog - or maybe his dog was walking him? I smelled the sweetness of the lake and acridness of the asphalt fumes.
I abandoned myself to lostness and found some things along the way - probably the most memorable was the realization of how I could choose to experience the world in a new way.
Now, how will this translate into the lostness of my self - all the questions about what I am doing and how it all fits? Can I abandon myself to lostness and allow the fact that sometimes I misplace myself change how I see the world?
Maybe I will begin to see it as less critical, less disapproving, less negative and just feel more safe, more okay, and enjoy the ride without needing to hyper-analyze each little trip along the way.
Perhaps I will see the act of "abandoning myself to lostness" not as a moment creating panic but as a new way to experience the world.
So I am curious - have you sometimes felt you have "misplaced yourself"? What was your reaction?
I'm still alternating between panic and starting an adventure.