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"We can always choose to get bad and lost without really choosing anything."

Neither The Muse nor I seem to be immune from getting lost. Even assisted by GPS and the almost always available GoogleMaps app, we still get lost. We can't credibly blame these occurrences on the mapping software because it's just software and therefore eminently fallible. We can't always blame ourselves, either, and not only because blaming never found anything. In order for blaming to find anything, it would have to reverse the ineffable forward flow of time, which would be an unrealistically heavy lift for anybody. Blaming suggests just going back for a do-over, but there's never any going back and therefore no do-over possible. Getting lost seems an inescapable element of living and probably not that much of a problem, anyway, though it certainly seems like the problem it isn't.

I figure that getting lost serves as a force leveler, protecting me from getting what my mother would call "too big of a head."
No matter how masterful I might at any time feel, getting lost can take me down a peg, and any NuthinSpecial anybody can usually benefit from slipping down a peg or two. A pleasing humility might result. But however beneficial, getting lost belongs to the group of experiences that cannot be planned. No contingency could possibly predetermine the local conditions experienced upon realizing that you're lost. Lost seems an unwanted insight with no blinding light illuminating the exit. For me, lost tends to amplify my more terrified self, the one that always tries to stay safe and found. Losing 'it' entails some terror for me.

Prague seems to serve as the capital of lost. If one were hankering to get lost, Prague would be the place to go because it holds the highest probability for experiencing lost. The maps handed out by the sociable desk clerk at the hotel have a little footnote along the bottom explaining that the old town has never been successfully mapped, so even following the map might get you lost. Fortunately, the footnote continues, getting lost is the very best way to discover Prague. Small reassurance for anyone like me with a phobia around getting lost, but the corollary to this advice probably holds generally true: the very best way to get found is to get Good&Lost first. This positive outcome, though, seems to rely upon whether one gets Good&Lost or one of the array of not good losts also available when losing your way.

Good&Lost opens one up for unforeseen possibility. It might even savor the disconnectedness as a respite from being so gol-derned found all the time. It's finally possible to stay essentially found all the freaking time, and like too much screen time, I question the beneficence of it. The puzzle posed by realizing you're lost probably exercises flabby portions of the brain that might just go to seed without the occasional provocation. The elation of getting found again might generally outweigh the distress getting lost might induce. We probably need occasional injections of just these sorts of elation to maintain our sanity. Depression might be the natural result of staying too found, too solidly grounded in whatever surrounds you. Anyone would feel hemmed in and cornered if they could not occasionally gain incognito status relative to their surroundings.

My ego takes it personally when I find that I'm lost again. It tells me that I'm more stupid than human, though getting found again usually confirms my deeper humanity and disconfirms any suspected defining stupidity. This roller coaster ride never kicks in until I find myself lost again. The Muse and I last night set out to get good and lost. First, we were in Prague, a place where setting out to get Good&Lost doesn't qualify as a totally delusional intention. We headed off in an unfamiliar direction, basically fleeing madding crowds, and soon found ourselves simply wandering. We entered one of Prague's labyrinthine passageways, only to exit heading in what we suspected might have been the same direction we just came from. A few such twists and turns and we were good and turned around, each of us convinced that we knew where we were relative to the river. Of course, neither of us knew and GoogleMaps was little help. Even pulling my handy pocket compass from my front pocket contributed nothing to resolving the mystery.

We stumbled into a really remarkable restaurant where we spent a blissful hour caring less and less if we were ever found again. Once exiting, though, our dilemma returned. We each wanted to head in different directions and soon we were doubly Good&Lost. I began considering the gastrointestinal ramifications of that fine meal working through me and mentioned that we might want to get found rather more quickly than we'd earlier considered necessary. Again, we were each semi-convinced that we knew the way without either of us actually knowing, so we sort of circled until The Muse found a thread of possibility, which put us on an unfamiliar tram which left us a long block from the hotel. We'd been Good&Lost for somewhat more than an hour and discovered some fresh places within the labyrinth that will always be central Prague. Retracing our path out this morning took us to the train station by a route we had not known about before we got Good&Lost.

We will most certainly get lost again. Whether we get Good&Lost has nothing to do with how or when we manage to get lost, but with how we choose to cope with it. Lost serves as the unwanted improbability generator we'd hoped to avoid. Once experienced, we get to choose what we do with lost. We can always choose to get bad and lost without really choosing anything. We might alternatively choose to get Good&Lost and discover what we didn't suspect we needed when we were so securely found before.

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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