“Do you make the best possible use of your sight?” Georgina Kleege asks in thebook I’ve been reading. Her question smolders as a challenge in the back of my head. Do I? Kleege wants to ask a stranger in an art museum who scolded her for standing too close to a painting to be able to really see it, “When you look at this painting, what do you see? How do you know that’s what you’re supposed to see? What makes you so sure?”
I might see ladybugs on the sidewalk but often enough space out on light poles on the sidewalk and sometimes people. Right in front of my face? No guarantee. Too tiny to bother with? Chances are I might notice. This could be symptomatic of something else…
On my walk home from the bookstore last week, I heard a woman’s voice from over my shoulder wish me “Merry Christmas!” Then two people on bicycles laced with Christmas lights–hers all in blue, the guy’s with multicolored strands–passed me quietly as I walked along side the busy boulevard. The smile they gave me lasted me most of the rest of the blocks home.
From the book I bought that night, Rebecca Solnit’s A Field Guide to Getting Lost:
Leave the door open for the unknown, the door into the dark. That’s where the most important things come from, where you yourself came from, and where you will go.
The things we want are transformative, and we don’t know or only think we know what is on the other side of that transformation. Love, wisdom, grace, inspiration–how do you go about finding these things that are in some ways about extending the boundaries of the self into unknown territory, about becoming someone else?
To lose yourself: a voluptuous surrender, lost in your arms, lost to the world, utterly immersed in what is present so that its surroundings fade away. In Benjamin’s terms, to be lost is to be fully present, and to be fully present is to be capable of being in uncertainty and mystery. And one does not get lost but loses oneself, with the implication that it is a conscious choice, a chosen surrender, a psychic state achievable through geography.That thing 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.