The other day, I was chatting with a sweet Lyft driver about her childhood in Puerto Rico. She told me about how her dad would take her out for drives and they’d wander around unfamiliar roads together, just checking things out.
Remember what life was like before GPS? If you made a wrong turn, if you drove off the map - that was it. You just had to drive around until you happened to get back on track. But, there was a real beauty in that, you know? I feel a sense of loss about being lost.
We know where we are just about all the time now. Even worse, we think we SHOULD know where we are all the time. So, being lost feels like a real problem when it happens.
This kind of thinking impacts the creative process, too. We expect to know exactly what we’re doing at all times. Our next steps as artists shouldn’t be a mystery. We think we’re failing if we don’t see a clear path forward. This is causing a lot of artists a lot of pain.
But...what if being lost was an ESSENTIAL part of the creative process? After many years of being an artist, I really think it is (and not just because I have a ridiculously bad sense of direction). Because, being lost is a place of possibility, adventure, receptivity, and...creativity. Having everything figured out at the outset? Or, thinking you do? That’s like putting blinders on.
Wouldn’t it get totally boring to know everything and make predictable images all the time? No spontaneity. No happy accidents. No magic. No discovery. Art would be like putting square pegs in square holes. I know I’d lose interest.
I’d rather be an adventurer! I’d rather make the images I’m most called to make, and then look to them for direction and guidance. I’d rather get lost in my creative work, explore weird side roads, and see what arises to surprise and delight me.
If we could let go of the idea that being lost is bad, and see it as a vibrant, vital, charged experience that sets the stage for creative discovery - maybe we’d all be healthier as artists. Maybe we’d be able to let go of the shame of not knowing exactly what to do next.
So, if you’re feeling lost right now? You’re exactly where you need to be.