What I Find When I’m Lost

Steven - Boonville, Indiana
Entered on May 2, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe in getting lost. It goes against all common logic to try to lose oneself in an unfamiliar area. Despite my innate desire to have control of my surroundings, I often find myself most happy when I am utterly lost. Granted that the places where I lose myself are not, by most standards, untamed wildernesses, they still afford a sliver of mystery and adventure in an otherwise well mapped life.

In my mundane, cyclical routine, I find myself staring at the same drab surroundings of the expressway, wishing for a winding, open stretch of road and an uncertain destination. As a full time student with a part time job and a slew of personal obligations, I feel as though most of my life is spent in frantic transit. Despite traveling hundreds of miles of main thoroughfares each month, I am only driving somewhere meaningful when I’m not going anywhere in particular. On the carefree days that I can spare the time to unlock a new route, I feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment for having expanded the confines of my world.

By finding the ultimate destination of an unfamiliar road or taking the unmarked trail in a nearby wildlife preserve, I can feel as though I’ve discovered something that no one else knows of. Although I am fully aware that I am not the first to traverse the hiking paths of a national park, going into the woods without a concrete destination allows me to feel as though I’ve stumbled across something that nobody else knows about. After having felt the thrill of uncertainty, I am overwhelmed by the same rush of discovery at having found my way through the woods as if I’d blazed the trail myself.

As with any good murder mystery, the excitement in most aspects of life stems from what is unknown. The drive to finish a book is extinguished once someone has spoiled the ending, just as Christmas lost part of its magic the year I found out where the presents were hidden. Similarly, taking the expressway or staying on the main trail affords me as much uncertainty and intrigue as a detective novel without a murder.

In my life there are no more New Worlds or Wild Wests to discover and conquer and nearly every inch of the Earths forests and shorelines have been explored and mapped. Aside from outer space or deep sea trenches, all of the mystery has already been pillaged from my world. Although I’ve accepted the fact that I’ll never discover a continent, I can still lose myself while charting the hidden niches of my home town.