Maybe the Lost and Found could be staffed by Psychologists or Pastors. This way if you lose yourself and you need to talk, you know where to go. Unless you lose your memory.
What you will find at the Lost and Found is stuff that no one really wants. We should name it Left Behind and Unwanted: Sweaters, water bottles, hats and homework (“oops I can’t do my homework, I wonder where it is?”).
What I learned by getting lost
On a summer vacation in 1986, some friends and I visited New York City. I can’t remember how it happened, but somehow I became separated from my group. In a matter of minutes the Big Apple took a bite out of my confidence. I was all alone, I had no money and no cell phone. I panicked.
I considered sneaking onto a bus or begging for money. Those ideas may have worked, but I decided to use two of my other assets: my brain and my feet. I walked for hours and eventually I forgot that I was supposed to be afraid. When I found the address, my friends were shocked that I was able to find my way back.
That day being lost was profound. I may have gotten lost, but I found some things: the confidence to travel, greater trust in myself, being better prepared (carry a map and have some money) and always knowing how to find my way back home.
Lost and Profound
Without lost we will not know how to find.
In many countries, a person becomes an adult after getting permission from the calendar. Sounds stupid when you say it that way: you become an adult when the calendar tells you that you are 18 years old. (Read this for an interesting take on the Age of Majority) Instead, some cultures have rituals that define when youth is “of age.” These rituals may involve a journey or a difficult passage. The journey demands that the youth experience lostness in their emotions, in their soul, in their confidence (and in some cases they are literally lost) in order for them to to complete a task.
“Only in losing themselves will they find who they are. Only when they become lost will they gain the vision and the strength that they need to find their way home. I think this is a better way to decide when a person becomes an adult, it should be called Lost and Profound.”
What we learn when we are Lost and Profound
Getting lost while travelling and lost our way to adulthood are only two ways of being lost. There are many other ways to get lost: Losing ourselves in a relationship, losing our passion for a career (or a craft), losing our memory, losing our health and losing our motivation. Sorry kids, this is where you need to turn the GPS off because getting lost is how we find ourselves.
- Trust yourself and your sense of direction.Today we have a GPS in most cars and most cell phones, but we still get lost. All that these devices do is make us trust in technology when we should be finding out how to trust ourselves. For a week, turn off the GPS and use a paper map. (If you can’t do it for a week, try it for a day). The act of having to figure out your direction or even ask for directions will build trust that you can figure it out, even if that means asking someone for help. (By the way, that’s kinda the point).
- Tinker with a Moment of Uncertainty (to borrow the phrase from U2, Unknown Caller). Feeling lost can be creative. You and I feel a little lost when we look at a blank page, a blank canvas, an untaught course or an untried venture. Writing, painting, teaching and developing are creative efforts that usually begin with just an idea. It takes trust, courage and experimentalism to take any idea (I call it an idea-doodle) turn into a sketch, then into a complete picture and then to make it come to life.
-This experiment is low risk. For a week, take a sketchpad with you wherever you go. Your assignment is to doodle whenever you have some downtime (conference call, meetings, during a break, waiting in line, on the bus).
– Don’t worry if it ends up looking like a mess. Suspend your judgment. Doodles are not supposed to look like anything. They are doodles, not works of art.
-One benefit is that doodling like this frees your mind to think about other things. Use the pad to write down ideas that arise when you are not thinking about your life or solving problems.
- Create some ideas. James’ Altucher (Choose Yourself) recommends that we practice developing 10 ideas a day as a way to give our brains a workout. I don’t write 10 ideas every day, but I do it regularly. Practicing writing ideas is an excellent way to free up your mind to do little experiments. You don’t have to act on each of the ideas because at first your ideas will probably stink. Keep at it and the quality of your ideas will improve. For example, If you are writing about a topic, write down 10 ideas about your topic from different angles. If you are hosting a meeting and need to speak, write down 10 ideas about ways to engage your audience.
- Listen and you may find.Go for coffee and write down lessons you have learned from feeling lost. It could be that you are practicing asking for help, or you are learning more about your physical or emotional or spiritual limits, or you are reclaiming self care. It may be that right now, you have no lessons. Listening and acceptance may be where you need to be for a while. Reflection and listening to ourselves can be a turning point.
- Find something in your own Lost and Found. Think back to a skill or a hobby that you used to do but you just don’t have time for. Brush it off and reclaim it. For me, it is painting. I used to do it all of the time but now I have to make time for it. It can take a while to create a larger canvas, so I sometimes experiment with abstracts or really tiny canvases.
Getting lost can be profound. If you are feeling lost, try not to be in such a hurry to get out. Maybe you have some things to learn or some growing up to do? Maybe you need a time away from all of your other stressful demands? Getting lost may help you to find yourself.
I’d love to hear about your stories of what you have learned by getting lost!
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Keep it real