In today’s busy world, around the globe, the car GPS has become a staple for many families and business people. Plug in the address and off you go! You never need to worry about such troublesome things as landmarks or wrong turns (unless there’s roadwork that’s not in your GPS database).
What you may not realize is that we are losing the joy of getting lost. Think about it…what happens when you get lost. First of all, you have to deal with the anxiety, anger, frustration or whatever emotion boils up in you first. This is actually one of things we avoid most with the GPS. But its important. Why? Because, once you pass through that moment, emotionally and cognitively you are stronger. You experience the ability to “get through it”. And the next time something difficult arises, you are better prepared to deal with tough times.
Second, you try to figure out where you are in relation to where you want to go. You seek out landmarks, try to figure out your direction (north, south, east, west) and then place your intended destination into a newly realized frame. You begin to become acutely aware of where you are, your “place” on this earth at that moment in time. And as human creatures, our connection to and feeling comfortable in our place is key to our sense of well-being.
Third, you begin to discover new things. “Oh look,” you say, I didn’t know that store was over there! “Look! There’s a hiking trail I could explore with my daughter this weekend”. “Wow”, you say. “I didn’t realize I was so close to this beach! That’s great. I’ll have to come back here.” So you uncover new places, and build a broader perspective about what’s around you. You think of new ideas about things to do and places to see that you would not have learned about otherwise.
Next, you begin to find your way back. You either ask for directions (meeting new people in the process and finding a funny story that you share, or realizing that some people are not very helpful). You keep driving around until you find something that’s recognizable, a major highway that will take you back, a hidden turn you realize connects back to the road you were on in the first place. You start to relax and you build up a sense of trust in yourself – an experience that can only come from the unique familiarity of getting lost and finding your way back again. You can’t ask your GPS to explain to you what would have happened had you made a wrong turn.
Lastly, days, weeks or even years later, you realize you passed a place that you want to go back to. In trying to figure out what to do on a lazy day or in need of a special service that was provided by one of those new stores you discovered, you solve problems in the future…you use your new insight into your world to figure your way out of some unforeseen challenge.
So next time you take a trip or venture somewhere you’re not quite sure about, switch off the GPS and go it on your own, trust yourself, know that you will make it there and back, albeit with an unexpected detour here and there. And the joy of getting lost will find its way back to you in a richer life that is not even on the map yet!
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