Where am I? How did I get here? High green walls of trees and bushes tangled in a passionate dance line the trail. It looks like a path in a huge leafy maze. I keep walking without recognizing the place. Sometimes I hear murmuring of the waves, turn my face to the wind and feel the salty sea breeze on my skin. It is a pleasant sensation but it cannot make me feel more relaxed. I know I am in a dream but even in a dream you need to know where to go. I look around and sigh. I am at the crossroads. So where to now?
The maze at Hampton Court Palace was created in 1690 and since then people have been willingly getting lost in it taking a ball a twine with them there always should be a possibility of rescue, in case, of course, you want to be rescued. Initially, the labyrinth grew out of something called "the wilderness", the idea coming from the French "bosquets" or groves, which were in fact a kind of outdoor rooms. These green corridors have seen too many court intrigues and love affairs, but they keep their secrets. But, as Terry Gough, head gardener at the palace, said in an interview with the BBC journalist Stephen Smith, the maze and its leafy purlieus were also vital as an escape from the overwhelming busy-ness of court life (Smith). In its cool shade it must be so much easier to zone out and look into your own inner maze: where to now?
Touch me I'm cold, unable to control
Touch me I'm golden and wild as the wind blows
And tumbling tumbling, don't go fascination
If just for tonight darling, let's get lost (Beck, Khan)
When Cheryl Strayed made a stop to recharge her inner batteries on her hike along the Pacific Crest Trail she incidentally lost one of her boots. It fell from the high cliff she was standing on right into the lush thicket of trees. There was no use keeping his twin so it was hurled down with a wide generous movement in the wake of his red-laced leather brother. Cheryl was alone, barefoot, twenty-six years old and an orphan. A telling surname, you might say. She had been through a lot: her mothers death changed her life dramatically making her lose connection with her closest relatives, she was on the brink of divorcing the man she loved, she lived in a studio-apartment and worked as a waitress having put aside her ambition to become a writer. It was not the life she wanted to lead. So she started her hike to get lost and found in the deserts and rainforests of the Pacific Crest Trail. She writes: In the years before I pitched my boot over the edge of that mountain, Id been pitching myself over the edge too. Id ranged and roamed and railed from Minnesota to New York to Oregon and all across the West until at last I found myself, bootless, in the summer of 1995, not so much loose in the world as bound to it (Strayed 3-4). It must have been hard, I think, but it was really worth it. As J.R.R. Tolkien wisely put it: not all those who wander are lost (Tolkien).
Sometimes we just need to get lost to open our eyes to something new, to look at the world as though for the first time, marvel and wonder at its hidden magic. Today, in the age of GPS and Google Streets not everyone can afford the luxury of getting lost. Time, place and certain talent are required to revive this lost art. But we have a chance, we are not hopeless, we can learn from the great writers in whose literary forests we have so often lost ourselves, red-eyed and sleepy, but determined to find our way through the next paragraph, page, chapter. Lost in the Latin Quarter, Stephanie Rosenbloom, a New York Times reporter, recalls the words of Ray Bradbury from his 1990 interview with Rob Couteau: We travel for romance, we travel for architecture, and we travel to be lost Theres nothing better than to walk around Paris and not know where in hell you are (Rosenbloom). Borrowing Steinbecks neologism, we can say that we need to stop being mapifiers and become wanderers instead. Not all those who wander are lost. So where to now?
And high up above or down below
When you're too in love to let it go
But if you never try you'll never know
Just what you're worth
Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you (Coldplay)
In her review of Field Guide to Getting Lost: Rebecca Solnit on How We Find Ourselves Maria Popova describes a curious accident that happened while she was on a vacation on a California ranch. On a horse-riding outing she noticed that her horse had seen his peer across the field moving in a different direction. The horse began to neigh anxiously. Her guide said that horses, with all their extraordinary intelligence, find it hard to understand how their friends unexpectedly appear and disappear again when seen at a distance. Meditating on this thought-provoking issue, Popova writes: Falling out of sight held the terror of being forever lost. My horse was calling out, making sure his friend was still there that neither was lost (Popova). Isnt this primal fear of losing something we care about, losing ourselves, losing control (Popova) so familiar to all of us? Arent we afraid of losing that ball of twine which is a promise of rescue, a thread that ties us to our family and friends, the world we know?
Where am I? How did I get here? Warm salty breeze is rustling the leaves of the green maze corridors. Sunlight columns make it look like a huge forest cathedral filled with serene music of the distant waves. I keep walking and approach a bend in the road. I hear voices of the people I love. They are here, beside me, on their own quest. I know I am in a dream and it feels so right. I look around and smile. I am at the crossroads. So where to now?
Beck, and Natasha Khan. "Let's Get Lost (Beck with Bat For Lashes). Beck Lyrics." AZLyrics. Web. 1 Mar. 2016. <http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/beck/letsgetlost.html>.
Coldplay. "Lost! Coldplay Lyrics." AZLyrics. Web. 1 Mar. 2016. <http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/coldplay/lost.html>.
Popova, Maria. "A Field Guide to Getting Lost: Rebecca Solnit on How We Find Ourselves." Brain Pickings. Web. 2 Mar. 2016. <https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/08/04/field-guide-to-getting-lost-rebecca-solnit/>.
Rosenbloom, Stephanie. "Reclaiming the Age-Old Art of Getting Lost." The New York Times. 16 Apr. 2015. Web. 1 Mar. 2016. <http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/19/travel/19EssayLostEurope.html?_r=0>.
Smith, Steven. The lost Art of Being Lost. BBC: Magazine. Web. 2 March 2016. <http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-34473588>.Strayed, Cheryl. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. New York: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2012. Print.
Tolkien, J.R.R. Quotes. Brainy Quote. Web. 1 March 2016. <http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/jrrtolk101490.html>.
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