Our tutor recommended the work of Rebecca Solnit a couple of weeks ago and in particular A Field Guide to Getting Lost. I was interested in one of the recommendations in the front of the book:
“Get lost. It’s the only way to find yourself . . .Solnit’s writing is prose poetry and truly beautiful, her thoughts always exploratory and full of curiosity and wonder . . . It will leave you with a strange and joyful sense of rediscovering the adventure of living.” (The Observer)
I do not normally read books like this but I thought I would give it a try. I have only read one chapter Open Door. Solnit refers to Walter Benjamin whose work we were introduced to last week. Getting lost in cities was his interest but, it is more than being physically lost in terms of not knowing where you are. It is about being in the present and being comfortable with the uncertainty and mystery that entails. As someone who has never been much of an explorer (in any sense of the word) and always treads a well-trodden paths through cities and towns, not daring to take a different route or inquisitive enough to stray off the beaten track, this is challenging. Solnit goes on by saying:
“That things the nature of which is totally unknown to you is usually what you need to find, and finding it is a matter of getting lost.”
Sometimes getting lost or not is a matter of perspective as Daniel Boone demonstrates:
“I never was lost in the woods in my whole life, though once I was confused for three days.”
Solnit then refers to Virginia Woolf and her belief that getting lost was about losing and relinquishing yourself in terms of who you are and how others think of you.
This week I am leaving a thirty-six year career in universities. I will have more time to pursue my photographic interests and hopefully lose myself and as a consequence find myself. May be I can do this through my research project – getting lost on the Road to Elgol. Hopefully it will improve my photography and enable me to be truly in the present.
Solnit, R (2005) A Field Guide to Getting Lost, Canongate Books, Edinburgh